Lobstering in the Florida Keys

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Welcome to the Florida Keys Treasures Lobster Page.


The Florida lobster or Spiny Crawfish (Palinurus argus) is a crustacean. They are related to crabs, shrimp, and other lobsters. The Florida lobster is caught off the Florida Keys and around the southern tip of the state.

Lobstering - Spiny Crawfish - Lobster
Spiny Crawfish – Lobster

The Florida lobster is characterized by its lack of claws and numerous spines on the body. There are two large hooked horns over the eyes, a pair of long jointed antennae and five pairs of walking legs. It has mottled coloring of https://floridakeystreasures.com/creatures/yellow, brown, orange and blue markings over the body and tail. The tail is segmented and can be rapidly curled under the body to propel the lobster backwards through the water. Like all crustaceans, the Florida lobster must molt or shed its hard shell to grow. Its diet consists of clams, snails, seaweed and small marine organisms.

Florida lobster are commercially harvested using special traps at depths of 6 to 300 feet and more recently by commercial divers. Florida lobster are marketed as whole lobster, lobster tails, split tails and lobster meat. These products are available fresh or frozen, raw or cooked. The term “green” is used to refer to raw Florida lobster. An Florida lobster shell turns a bright red-orange when cooked. Florida

Lobster Tails - Lobstering
Lobster Tails

lobster tails can be boiled, steamed, grilled, deep-fried or broiled. The meat can be removed from the shell and used in many recipes. Florida lobster should be refrigerated at 32-38 degrees F and used within two days or stored in freezer at 0 degrees F for up to six months. Thaw frozen Florida lobster in the refrigerator or under cold running water.

Lobster Regulations

Monroe County Lobster Harvesting Brochure
Regular lobster season begins August 6th at 12:01 a.m. and ends March 31 at midnight. The two-day Sport Lobster Season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July, beginning at 12:01 A.M. on Wednesday and ending at 12:00 midnight on Thursday. The bag limit is 6 per person per day.

Anyone planning to hunt lobster in Florida territorial waters must have a valid recreational saltwater fishing license as well as a crawfish permit ($5.00) to catch lobster. One-year fishing licensees for residents are $17.00, while non-residents can purchase 3-day ($17.00), 7-day ($30.00), or 1-year licenses ($47.00.) Active military personnel stationed in Florida are considered to be residents. Licenses are available through local tax collectors, many tackle shops, and marine supply stores.

Bag limits are only for properly licensed individuals and those people exempt from license requirements who are actively harvesting, and those people harvesting may not exceed their individual bag limit and take someone else’s bag limit. That is, people (including children) who are not actively harvesting or are not properly licensed (if a license is required) may NOT be counted for purposes of bag limits.

Lobstering is always prohibited in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Looe Key Sanctuary, and some areas of Pennekamp State Park. Contact Pennekamp State Park at 305.451.1202 for more details.

No gear that could puncture the shell of lobster is allowed in your possession, including (but not limited to) spears, hooks, or wire snares.

You must have a measuring gauge on you at all times when you are hunting for lobster. The carapace (the main body) must be at least 3 inches in length to stay within legal size limits. Lobsters with a carapace under 3 inches must be freed unharmed.

How to Measure Lobster when Lobstering
How to Measure Lobster

Lobster must be of legal size before they are in possession. Remember: any lobsters in your catch bag in the water are considered in possession. For this reason, measure them before you place them in your bag.

You can be prosecuted for injuring any lobster while you are underwater don’t be one of those morons who try pulling them out of their holes by the antennae. Also, be extra careful not to bang into any coral or sponge while hunting lobster.

Don't take Lobsters With Eggs when Lobstering
Lobster With Eggs

Egg-bearing lobster must be released unharmed. You can recognize the eggs by an orange, yellow, brown, or red mass found covering the bottom of the lobster’s tail.

If you see any commercial lobster traps, give them wide berth: it is a felony to take lobster from commercial traps and these commercial fishermen are quite aggressive when it comes to protecting there livelihood.


Lobster Kit
Lobster Kit

The Perfect kit for Florida Lobster. Here are the all the vital things you need when you dive for the

“bugs”. Start with a durable, aluminum tickle stick for backing your catch into the quality strength aluminum framed net. The honey combed gloves allow you to easily grip the bug. The aluminum lobster gauge (you are required to have on in your possession when lobstering) is easy to measure your catches to make sure they are not under the legal size limit. And finally a large mesh bag to store your catch.

Click Here to get your kit delivered to you in time for your Lobster Hunt!