Now that I have graphic photos of a female California spiny lobster carrying her eggs, I thought it was the perfect time to do a quick recap of her fascinating role in the cycle of life. Okay, so the photos aren’t exactly graphic, but you get to see her glorious fluorescent orange eggs. That orange is so bright you have to wear shades.
In the photo, the eggs are pretty obvious, but if you look closely you can also see the now empty spermatophore stuck between her flailing legs. It’s the grayish-black silly-putty looking patch that stands out from the rest of her red body. That’s the packet the male places on her stomach holding sperm, hence the name spermatophore.
The female then carries this packet around with her until she is ready to produce eggs. Once she is ready, she breaks open the patch with her walking legs and manually (no pun intended) fertilizes the eggs with sperm. Once the eggs are fertilized the female lobster stores them under her tail attached to her pleopods, or swimmerets, which are the small, soft paddle -like structures holding the eggs in the photo. She carries anywhere from 300,000 to one million eggs for approximately three months until the eggs hatch.
So there you have it, a heavily armored lobster begins life as a brilliant orange spec. (For a full play by play of the California spiny lobster’s mating ritual check out my original post by clicking here.)