How to Catch Rock Lobsters in the Caribbean by Snorkeling


Rock lobsters, also known as spiny lobsters, are the claw-less cousins of the the famed American lobsters found in the deep cold waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Rock lobsters are typically found along the Gulf Coast and throughout the Caribbean. Many recreational lobster hunters enjoy going after spiny lobsters while snorkeling. Catching one requires a little bit of effort, but that effort will be rewarded at the dinner table as rock lobsters are as tasty as their cousins with big claws.

Things You'll Need

  • Dive mask
  • Snorkel
  • Dive fins
  • Tickle stick
  • Lobster net
  • Lobster gauge
  • Holding bag

Catching Rock Lobsters

  • Swim and snorkel near submerged rocky areas and reefs. Rock lobsters like to stay in depressions and caves in these areas during the day. You can spot them by the long antennae that often protrude noticeably out from where ever the lobsters are hiding.

  • Dive down to the spot where you've noticed lobster antennae protruding from a hole in the rocks or the reef. Water will rush into your snorkel (and possibly your mouth) so be sure to hold your breath. Also be prepared for your ears to pop as they adjust to the pressure as you go deeper.

  • Prod the area just in front of the lobster's antennae with you tickle stick. Tickle sticks can be anything from a simple piece of fiberglass or a high-tech telescoping stick with an attached snare. Whatever kind of tickle stick you use, the lobster will likely be curious about the movement outside its hovel and come out to investigate. If the lobster doesn't come out to check on the disturbance, you may try to find a way to prod it from behind.

  • Capture the lobster by scooping it up from the front into your net. You can place the net behind the lobster's tail and use your tickle stick to tap its head. This should prompt the lobster to flex its tail and move backward into your waiting net. Once your prey is in the net, cinch down the closure so that it cannot escape.

  • Measure the live lobster using a lobster gauge. Regulations vary by location so be sure to know the proper size restrictions. In parts of the U.S., for example, spiny lobsters that do measure at least 3.5 inches long must be released immediately. Also, check under the lobster's tail to be sure that the one you caught is not an egg-bearing female as these are illegal to keep.

  • Transfer the lobster from the lobster net into the holding bag, sometimes referred to as "lobster hotels". Be careful if using your hands as the lobster may try to make a break for freedom during the transfer. Once the lobster is in the holding bag secure the closure and go hunting for more.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rock lobsters don't have claws to pinch you, but their bodies are covered with spines to protect them from predators. Be aware of this if using your hands.
  • Snorkeling can be dangerous, make sure you are a strong swimmer and always go with a partner in case you run into trouble.

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