Palinurus elephas is a spiny lobster, which is commonly caught in the Mediterranean Sea. Its common names include European spiny lobster, crayfish or cray (in Ireland), common spiny lobster, Mediterranean lobster and red lobster.
It lives on rocky exposed coasts below the intertidal zone, mainly at depths of 5 to 150 metres.
Red lobsters may reach up to 60 cm (24 in) long, although rarely longer than 40 cm, and usually 25–30 cm. Few achieve their maximum weight of several kilograms.
The adults are reddish-brown with yellow spots. The carapace is slightly compressed and lacks lateral ridges. It is covered with forward pointing spines, with the supraorbital spines prominent. The antennae are very heavy and spiny. Their flagellum is tapering and is even longer than the body. The first walking leg (pereopod) is provided with subchela (the distal end of a limb developed as a prehensile structure). The fourth segment (merus) of this leg has a characteristic row of spines.
During the day, the lobster is hidden in rocky depths of 5 to 150 m, and at full moon nighttime it searches for food. It feeds on algae, sea worms, other types of crabs.
The lobster armor can not be expanded and therefore it is embossed at certain times so that it can grow unhindered. When the armor becomes too soft, the lobster avoids feeding and pulls into holes where it is out of reach of predators.
up to 60 cm
up to 50 years
Red lobster meat is considered one of the best seafood delicacies. It is white and very tasty, rich in proteins and carbohydrates.
The lobsters have harmful bacteria naturally present in their body. Once the lobster is dead, these bacteria quickly multiply and release toxins that can not be destroyed by cooking. Therefore people reduce the risk of food poisoning by cooking the lobster while still alive.