#CreatureFeature – Panulirus cygnus (Western Rock Lobster)

This month’s #CreatureFeature is the Western Rock Lobster! It’s that time of year when many of us are indulging in fresh, local seafood sourced from our backyard. So let’s learn more about the cray!


The western rock lobster is a staple of West Australian marine life. It belongs to the family of ‘spiny’ lobsters, which have a strong colourful and protective carapace. They are sometimes called ‘crayfish’ or ‘crays’. The species is the target of WA’s largest and most valuable fishery bringing in an estimated value of around $400 million per year. They can live for over 20 years and reach sizes over five kilograms, although fishing rules to protect the breeding stock mean that fishers rarely catch any animals over three kilograms.

Habitat and distribution

Western Rock Lobster live mostly in waters off the coast of the south-west region of Western Australia with most living between Perth and Geraldton.


Their food contains a wide range of items such as algae, detritus (dead and dying marine matter), molluscs and crustaceans.


Western Rock Lobsters mate in late winter and spring. The eggs hatch in four to eight weeks, depending on water temperature, and release tiny larvae into the water.

A number of species of fish eat juvenile lobsters. As adults, they are prey for octopus and a variety of large fish.

Interesting fact

They can regrow legs and antennae lost as a result of conflicts with predators.

Taj Mamid – Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program Administration Support Officer

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