Dr. Jo Taylor from Museum Victoria, in Australia recently discovered two new species of squat lobsters. Squat lobsters typically live at great depths; deeper than 500 meters. Some even live at depths of 3,000 meters. They are distributed throughout the oceans, and there are over 800 species. Like a number of species with misleading names, they actually are not lobsters, but more closely related to crabs. Dr. Taylor said, “They’re affectionately known in the business as ‘squatties.’ They’re just everywhere, all over the world, and they’re often found in large numbers.” (Source: Museum Victoria)
The biology of squat lobsters is not known as much as some other species due to their widespread distribution, complex environments and a relative lack of commercial interest compared with real lobsters. A somewhat famous example of a squat lobster is the yeti crab, which was discovered at about 1,500 meters near Easter Island living near hydrothermal vents.
Fortunately the deeper situated squat lobsters are less easy to catch for commercial fishing outfits, so they are somewhat protected. Still, some of them are caught and sold in restaurants as langostino lobster, a name which adds even more confusion to the picture, as langostino actually refers to prawns. A langostino lobster would be a prawn lobster, which doesn’t seem to make such sense, especially if squat lobsters are really crabs.
Long John Silver’s faced controversy over their advertising of langistino lobster, because it led consumers to believe they were getting lobster at very low prices. There was enough of a kerfluffle about the situation, National Public Radio did a story about it.
Image Credit: Dr. Jo Taylor