**This blog entry orginally appeared on the website oceanspaces.org.**/p>

photo credit: Dan Pondella

When we hear the word lobster, most of us probably picture the big-clawed American lobsters found in seafood restaurants and grocery stores. However, southern California is home to a different kind of lobster – the California spiny lobster.

These clawless relatives of American lobsters are important members of South Coast kelp forest and rocky reef communities, both ecologically and economically. They support valuable commercial and recreational fisheries and play an important role in the food web, eating  sea urchins and other invertebrates and being eaten by larger fish and marine mammals.

We are thrilled to announce the release of the fifth Snapshot Report:

Baseline Highlights from California’s South Coast Spiny Lobster Population Project: Monitoring Spiny Creatures of the Night

From 2011-2013, scientists, resource managers, fishermen, and volunteers worked together to characterize populations of California spiny lobsters inside and outside marine protected areas (MPAs) in five locations. The research team selected study sites with historical records of lobster fishing effort. They tagged spiny lobsters to determine abundance, size, and movements, and conducted SCUBA-based surveys that explored habitat preferences and sheltering behavior. Additionally, they compared fishing effort before and after MPA implementation.

photo credit: Sarah Finstad

Click here to read other reports included in the South Coast Snapshot Series. Stay tuned for the next report: Birds!

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