Swimming of the Mediterranean slipper lobster

Ehud Spanier, Daniel Weihs, Galit Almog-Shtayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Escape swimming observed in the Mediterranean slipper lobster Scyllarides latus (Latreille, 1803) in the field was studied under controlled laboratory conditions using a videosystem. Lobsters demonstrate a "burst-and-coast" type of swimming found also in some negatively buoyant fast-swimming fish. Large amplitude movements of the tail propel them quickly backwards, alternating periods of acceleration (top velocities of 2.5-3.6 body lengths · s-1) with powerless gliding (average velocities of 0.5-1 body lengths · s-1). Force · tail-beat-1) ranges between 125 000 and 305 000 dyn and correlates significantly with body length. However, no significant correlation was found between lobster length and acceleration which was found to range between 250 and 500 cm · s-2. It is suggested that the increased force, probably due to larger muscle and telson, is required in larger lobsters to move the larger mass rather than to increase speed and acceleration. This intermittent fast swimming is assumed to be used by lobsters to escape, especially through the back opening of their diurnal shelter in case a predator is successful in penetrating it. It is of short duration and is suggested as an emergency means in which the animal invests considerable energy resources to reduce its exposure time in an open area until it reaches an alternative shelter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-31
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Mar 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ments were performed. R. Pollack, Z. Fridman and A. Nagar-Yekhiav are acknowledged for their help in preparing the illustrations. This study was supported by a grant from the Technion/University of Haifa Joint Research Fund.


  • Escape swimming
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Mediterranean slipper lobster
  • Scyllarides latus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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