The lobster that I am writing about here is the Hawaiian Red Lobster (a.k.a Red Dwarf Reef Lobster or Red Reef Lobster). And for all the ichthyologists out there, you can stop scratching; the scientific name is Enoplometopus occidentalis.
Even though this species is said to be common it is definitely a rare find. If you ask all the old timers who have been diving The Aliwal Shoal for years and years if they have seen one on our reef; they will say ‘No’. Until recently that is. We have found another ‘secret spot’ with four of these little critters.
The Hawaiian Red Lobster is nocturnal. So, during the day, when we go diving, the lobsters’ are hiding in cavities and crevices in the rock. This does not mean that you cannot see them. They are still exposed enough so you can make them out clearly and even see the hairs all over their body. But, they are irritated by light. This can be noticed when a torch is shone directly on to them. When this happens they retreat way back into the rock so that they can no longer be seen. This is why we deter any visiting divers not to shine their torches directly onto them, and rather shine their torches just to the side. We don’t want to scare the lobsters away permanently.
You will notice in my photograph that the lobster only has one pincer. Some of the Hawaiian Red Lobsters have one pincer while others have two. In the “secret spot” one lobster has one pincer; two lobsters have two pincers; and I haven’t been able to get a good look at the fourth one to see how many it has. We are not sure why this is.
When you see the size of the lobsters you will see that they are not worth taking. They are too small to braai. If it is taste that you are after then you must come speak to Dolf. Dolf will take you on a free diving expedition to catch some crayfish. This lobster has no value in the fishing industry but it is said to be highly prized in the aquarium trade industry.
I would like to thank Haakon Saestad and John Dench of the Toti Social Divers for the information they provided on the Hawaiian Red Lobster.