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Meet the Hawaiian red reef lobster

This extremely beautiful eight-inch long dwarf lobster is fairly common in Hawaiian waters, but rarely ever seen. As far as we know it does not even have a Hawaii name as it lives on the deeper water coral reefs way back in cracks and only comes out at night time!

The two large species of lobsters here in Hawaii do not have pincers but this small secretive lobster does and it uses the pincers to tear apart bits of food off of dead fish, seaweed and other dead animals.

During the day, the red reef lobster hides way back in the rocky reef and will also hide under the sand. Most of what is known about this creature has been learned from raising them in aquariums as they are very difficult to study in the ocean.

After over 1,000 scuba dives I have done in Hawaii, I have only seen four of these beautiful crustaceans in person. I was lucky to get this picture of one up close as I was filming some different creatures way back in a dark cave at 60-feet deep when two of the red reef lobsters appeared out of a crack chasing each other!

One chased the other one right up to the camera and I got an amazing video clip in the bright lights. Apparently these lobsters are very territorial and I was just in the right place and right time to see one being chased away from another ones home!

The colors on this lobster are just stunning and the little hairs all over its body sense pressure changes so it can be alerted when there is a predator nearby. This lobster species is too small for humans to eat but I am sure it would be gobbled up by many different fish species if it ventured out in the open.

Like many cave dwelling sea creatures the lobster has red colors because in a dark cave, red is actually black so it blends in with is surroundings.

You can see the Red Reef Lobster in action in my new movie, “The Worlds Guide to Hawaiian Reef Creatures,” up on my web at You can also follow my marine life educational post up on my Instagram at terry.lilley.

Aloha From Under the Surf.


Terry Lilley, marine biologist, Hanalei,,, all photographs © 2016 Terry Lilly
Source: The Garden Island

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