Panulirus argus reaches a maximum length of approximately 45 cm (1.47 feet), but is more commonly found at lengths of approximately 20 cm (7.9 inches). Growth in the first year averages 5 cm (1.5 inches), with growth thereafter averaging approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch) per year. Male and female growth rates are approximately equal in south Florida nursery areas (Davis and Dodrill 1980). Females tend to grow somewhat more slowly than males (Little 1972; Olsen and Koblick 1975) and do not achieve as large a size (Williams 1984).Spiny lobsters molt an average of 2.5 times per year, with most molting occurring from March - July, or from December - February in Florida (Williams 1984). Growth characteristics are correlated with age, with molt frequency and increment of growth at molting tending to decline with age (Aiken 1980). Variability in food quality and abundance, population density, water temperature, as well as rates of predation and injury, all affect growth rates in local populations. Eldred et al. (1972) estimated average growth rates in wild populations of Panulirus argus as 5 mm (0.2 inches) per month for the first 9 -10 months post-settlement in Biscayne Bay, Florida. Tagging studies in the same area showed that mean growth rates in 40-85 mm (1.6 - 3.3 inches) lobsters averaged 1.8 mm (0.07 inches) per month, with physical condition having a significant impact on growth rates. Davis (1981) reported that individuals having no injuries grew approximately 2.2 mm (0.09 inches) per month, while those missing legs and antennae grew only 1.3 mm (0.05 inches) per month. In Florida Bay, however, growth rates for injured and uninjured lobsters were approximately equal, at 3.3 mm (0.12 inches) per month (Davis and Dodrill 1980). In Key West, tagged lobsters 49-83 mm (1.9 - 3.3 inches) in length grew approximately 3.1 mm (0.12 inches) per month (Little 1972).Witham et al. (1968) reared pueruli of Panulirus argus under laboratory conditions over 7 months. During this time pueruli averaging 6 mm (0.2 inches) carapace length (CL) grew to an average of 34 mm (1.33 inches), with growth rates ranging from 3.8 - 4.2 mm (0.14 - 0.16 inches) per month. Other laboratory populations grew considerably more slowly, with Lewis et al. (1952) and Sweat (1968) reporting monthly growth rates less than 2 mm (0.07 inches) per month. Assuming a post-settlement growth rate of 4.0 mm (0.16 inches) per month, Panulirus argus likely reaches legal harvest size in 20 - 40 months, depending on location and degree of injury (Little 1972; Davis and Dodrill 1980).
No one has provided updates yet.