Slipper lobster Scllarides haanii and Scllarides squammosus
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Distribution – There are two main species of Slipper Lobster found in Australian waters, the aesop slipper lobster (S. haanii) and blunt slipper lobster (S. squammosus). Both are also commonly known as flat lobsters or slipper bugs. Slipper lobsters are found on both the east and west coasts. They are not regularly commercially fished, however they may be caught and marketed as part of the prawn trawl fishery bycatch. Found in depths up to 135 metres but can be found as shallow as 10 metres.
Size – carapace length to over 21cm (over 50.5cm total length).
Characteristics – Both species are easily distinguishable. The aesop has pronounced bumps along its abdomen, where as the Blunt Slipper Lobster has much less obvious bumps. Very different from other rock lobsters (ornate, eastern & southern) with the main distinguishing feature being the Slipper Lobsters antennae, which have evolved into short, broad, plate-like flat antennae, rather than the long thin antennae of the other rock lobsters.
Confusing species – The Slipper Lobster s are often confused with Balmain Bugs (Ibacus species) and Moreton bay Bugs (Thenus species). The slipper lobsters are distinguished by having a considerably more robust first pair of legs.
Fishing tips – Free diving (snorkelling) is the best method of capture, as Slipper Lobsters rarely enter conventional lobster traps commonly used to capture eastern or Southern Rock Lobsters. They are often found clinging to the roof of rocky caves or on the underside of large plate corals.