Meet baby California spiny lobster

Phyllosoma larva

What’s this crazy drawing you ask? This is an enlarged depiction of a baby California spiny lobster posted in Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s research laboratory. At the beginning of life, California spiny lobsters spend several months as Phyllosoma larva. The term “phyllosoma” means leaf-like body.

At this stage in life, spiny lobsters flow where the ocean takes them and are barely visible to the human eye. They are so small that many are probably accidentally inhaled or swallowed by other larger ocean animals.

During the phyllosoma stage, California spiny lobsters look so fragile, it’s hard to believe some grow to become 15 pound lobsters with exterior red armor to boot. It’s not fully understood how spiny lobsters know when to abandon this free floating stage and settle on the ocean floor to begin their lives as true crustaceans. But at some point those that survive do exactly that. An amazing life cycle for an amazing animal, from leaf-like, barely visible planktonic critter to fully-formed fully-armored all-terrain vehicle stalking the ocean floor at night. The California spiny lobster’s life journey is one wild ride.

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