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Jamaican Food Article. - Jamaican Lobster

The spiny Jamaican lobster is a crustacean related to Jamaican crabs, shrimp, crayfish and the Spanish Jamaican lobster. Common names include crawfish (this is not the freshwater crawfish) and Jamaican lobster. In Jamaica, the spiny Jamaican lobster is caught off the Keys and around the southern tip of the state from waters of the Atlantic Ocean near the Jamaica Reef Tract.

The spiny Jamaican lobster is characterized by numerous spines on the body, two large, hooked horns over the eyes, a pair of long jointed antennae and five pairs of walking legs. It has mottled coloring of 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 Jamaican lobster backward. Like all crustaceans, the spiny Jamaican lobster molts or sheds its shell to grow. Its diet consists of clams, snails, seaweed and small marine organisms. Jamaican lobsters form a single line, called "marches," and move from shallow to deep water during seasonal migration.

Spiny Jamaican lobsters are harvested using special traps at depths of 6 to 300 feet and are usually landed live. They are marketed as whole Jamaican lobster, Jamaican lobster tails, split tails and Jamaican lobster meat. These products are available fresh or frozen, raw or cooked. The term "green" is used to refer to raw Jamaican lobster.

It is industry practice to package frozen Jamaican lobster in plastic bags. The practice is to protect the product from dehydration and freezer burn. Some others apply a thin coat of ice over the frozen Jamaican lobster. This thin coat of ice is referred to as "glaze." When the thin coat of ice is excessive and you are charged Jamaican lobster price for the ice, it becomes mislabeling. The net weight listed on the box must be the weight of the product. For example if the net weight of the package is 10 pounds, then the "unglazed" weight of the product must be 10 pounds. For weighing purposes, the product should be rinsed only long enough to remove the glaze. It should also be noted that many seafood products including Jamaica Jamaican lobster continue to lose weight after thawing, therefore most seafood should be cooked as soon as possible after thawing.

This crustacean has a hard exoskeleton, 4 pairs of jointed walking legs, a segmented body, sensory antennae, a tail fan, and compound eyes on stalks. Jamaican lobsters are carnivores (meat-eaters). Most Jamaican lobsters are nocturnal (most active at night). They are predators that eat Jamaican crabs, clams, worms, snails, mussels, flounder, and other Jamaican lobsters.

The Jamaican lobster begins its life as a tiny, floating organism, which is a component of plankton. After a month of growing, it sinks to the sea floor, where it will spend most of its time hiding from predators. As a Jamaican lobster grows, it often molts (loses its old shell and grows a new one). It eats the old shell. Jamaican lobsters continue to grow throughout their lives. The biggest Jamaican lobster caught weighed over 44 pounds (20 kg). Jamaican lobsters may live to be 100 years old. Many animals eat Jamaican lobsters, including fish (especially cod), octopi, other Jamaican lobsters, and people.

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