Mangrove Marina

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Spiny Lobster Season Is Here!

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The season for spiny lobster began on August 6, 2023, and continues through the end of March 2024. One of the Keys’ favorite seafood treats, spiny lobsters have some similarities to northern or Maine lobsters but are also quite distinctive. Most commonly found in warm tropical and subtropical waters, like the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, spiny lobsters have no claws and are covered with spiny features that help protect them from underwater predators. They typically make their homes in rocky crevices, from which they get their nickname “rock lobsters,” or coral caverns.

Between March and August, spiny lobsters spawn, and the females can be spotted carrying their eggs beneath their bellies until they hatch. The newly hatched larvae are moved along by ocean currents until they reach safer shallows where they can nestle into the seagrasses and feed on smaller marine creatures. Once they reach maturity, they migrate back to reefs offshore where they can feast on various creatures, including urchins, snails, clams, and more, largely under the cover of darkness.

Spiny lobster season begins with a brief two-day sport season in July, and soon after arrives the regular season, which runs from August through the end of March. To be eligible for harvesting, lobsters must have a minimum of a three-inch carapace, but they can grow much longer, often reaching 10-12 lbs. or more.

Spiny lobster meat is firm and versatile, making it easy to roast, steam, grill, and more. Its medium sweetness is paired with a noticeable brine that makes it ideal for use in bisques or chowders, risottos, or lobster stews. You can also fry the meat into fritters or serve it with a spicy mayo on a lobster roll. Our local restaurants have found numerous ways to make this delectable treat even more flavorful and are serving up freshly caught spiny lobster daily throughout the season.

Although you can buy spiny lobster, if you’re visiting the Keys, you can also plan a diving trip to harvest some of your own. The weather is gorgeous this time of year, and you can spend the day boating, diving, and relaxing. You can get all the “must know” information at Be sure to grab your spiny lobster permit and fishing license before you go! Caution is needed as you move through the marine life and corals to avoid harming either in your quest for spiny lobster. Be sure to wear a life jacket when you’re out on the water and use proper flags when diving, and watch for others’ flags while boating.

If you’d rather enjoy your lobster effortlessly and onshore, check out one of our many fine seafood restaurants here in the Keys. Plan to stay at our Aqua Villas, houseboats that are well-equipped with everything you need to be comfortable during your time here. Mangrove Marina has all the amenities of a luxury resort in a picturesque and convenient setting. Spiny lobster season ends on March 31, 2024, so plan your visit soon!

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