South coast rock lobster
These deep-water rock lobsters live at depths of between 90 and 170m. Because they are deep-sea creatures, they are only caught commercially using baited lobster pots.
Commercial fisheries catch about 800 tonnes of South Coast rock lobster every year.
What’s in a name?
Are these lobster, crayfish or kreef? They are not true lobsters because they don’t have large claws. They are also not the same as the fresh-water crayfish found in Europe that do not have such gourmet appeal!
In South Africa we call them crayfish or kreef. Their correct name is rock lobster or spiny lobster.
Shed my skeleton
Like all crustaceans, rock lobsters have a hard exo-skeleton (meaning the skeleton is on the outside of the body rather than on the inside like ours). The skeleton is jointed, allowing rock lobsters to move quickly and efficiently on their 10 jointed legs. Although the hard exo-skeleton is like armour or a bullet-proof vest and protects them from predators, rock lobsters have to shed the skeleton in order to grow. This is called molting. During molting, rock lobsters are soft and vulnerable to predators until their new shell hardens.