Scyllarides Latus

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Description

Scyllarides latus, the Mediterranean slipper lobster, is a species of slipper lobster found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It is edible and highly regarded as food, but is now rare over much of its range due to overfishing. Adults may grow to 1 foot (30 cm) long, are camouflaged, and have no claws. They are nocturnal, emerging from caves and other shelters during the night to feed on molluscs. Scyllarus latus is found along most of the coast of the Mediterranean Sea (one exception being the northern Adriatic Sea), and in parts of the eastern Atlantic Ocean from near Lisbon in Portugal south to Senegal, including the islands of Madeira, the Azores, the Selvagens Islands and the Cape Verde Islands.

Scyllarides latus can grow to a total body length about 45 centimetres (18 in), although rarely more than 30 cm (12 in). This is equivalent to a carapace length of up to 12 cm (4.7 in). An individual may weigh as much as 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb). As in all slipper lobsters, the second pair of antennae are enlarged and flattened into “shovels” or “flippers”. Despite the name “lobster”, slipper lobsters such as Scyllarides latus have no claws, and nor do they have the protective spines of spiny lobsters. Instead, the exoskeleton, and particularly the carapace, are thicker than in clawed lobsters and spiny lobsters, acting as resilient armour. Adults are cryptically coloured, and the carapace is covered in conspicuous, high tubercles.

The Scyllarides latus is at present the most sought-after seafood. Both its texture and its flavour make it especially coveted for the best restaurants in the world. Its scarcity makes it one of the most expensive seafood.

It is consumed mainly in Europe, in all the Mediterranean, in Russia, and in much of Asia, being China its main purchased.

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