Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SEAFOOD OF BRAZIL - Spiny Lobster (Lagosta)

Brazilians love lobster - who doesn't? But in the relationship between Brazilians and the tasty crustaceans, there's a problem: too much love. Lobster stocks are threated by overfishing, and although regulations to protect the fishery are in place, they are often flouted. Flavors of Brazil will feature this issue in upcoming posts, but first we thought it would be good to focus on exactly what is (and what isn't) a Brazilian lobster.

Unlike the true lobster (zoological family Nephropidae), which dwells in icy waters, Brazilian lobsters are warm-water inhabitants and belong to a separate family the Palinuridae. The Palinuridae are commonly known as spiny lobsters, and can be found in warm-waters seas around the world - places like the Caribbean, South Africa, Australia and, of course, Brazil.

Besides their habitat, spiny lobsters are distinguished from true lobsters by the lack of claws on their front legs and by the presence of of two long, thick and spiny antennae. They are an ancient group of animals, and there are spiny lobster fossils that are more than 110 million years old which don't differ significantly from current species.

Spiny lobsters prefer to live in crevices in rocks and coral reefs, darting out of their shelter to eat, and then retreating to safety. This habitat has caused them to also be called rock lobsters (thanks, B52s!). Recently scientists have discovered that spiny lobsters have the ability to navigate via the earth's magnetic field - i.e. they carry their own internalized compass when they move about.

Brazil is a significant producer of spiny lobster, ranking third in the world in production, coming behind the world's largest producer, the USA, and Australia. It is this important commercial fishery that is threatening Brazil's lobster population. We'll provide more details on this issue in our next post.


  1. hey, loved your blog - it's very difficulty to find Brazilian recipes in English on the net! well done, great job! Check out my blog

    1. Hi Ana - Thank you; I'm pleased you're enjoying the blog. One of the reasons I started the blog way back when was the lack of English-language material on Brazilian food on the web. There was lots in Portuguese, but not much in English.
      Also, thanks for the link to your blog. I've bookmarked it as a reference, since a visit to London is in the offing for March 2013.

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