Panulirus versicolor


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Panulirus versicolor
Species Authority: (Latreille, 1804)
Common Name(s):
English Painted Spiny Lobster
Palinurus versicolor Latreille, 1804

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2009-12-03
Assessor(s): Cockcroft, A., Butler, M. & MacDiarmid, A.
Reviewer(s): Collen, B., Livingstone, S. & Richman, N.
Contributor(s): Batchelor, A., De Silva, R., Dyer, E., Kasthala, G., Lutz, M.L., McGuinness, S., Milligan, H.T., Soulsby, A.-M. & Whitton, F.
Panulirus versicolor has been assessed as Least Concern. This species has a wide distribution and faces no immediate threat of extinction from harvesting for food. Fisheries typically operate on a small scale but there is no indication that the global stock is in decline.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is known throughout the Indian Ocean (east coast of Africa and the Red Sea) east to Japan, Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Northern Australia (Holthuis 1991).
Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Madagascar; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This is a common species. It is harvested throughout its range, but is mostly for local use (Holthuis 1991). It is harvested by artisanal, recreational and commercial fishers predominantly within Kenya, India, Palau, New Guinea, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Global catches are comparatively low compared to other Palinurid species at approximately 1,000 to 8,000 kg year-1 per country (MacDonald 1982, Kailola et al. 1993). In India this species only comprises a very small proportion of the palinurid catch (Radhakrishnan et al. 2005) and is exploited at low to moderate levels (Vijayakumaran and Radhakrishnan 1997). Commercial catches of this species were sampled from 1969 to 1970 in Palau. Results indicated that the population had undergone very little fishing pressure, and both sexes were equally abundant. Recruitment appears to occur all year round (MacDonald 1982). In a study of Palinurid catch composition from Sri Lanka, this species comprised only 3% of the total catch (Jayawickrema 1991).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found in areas of coral reef, most often on the seaward edge of reef plateaus, where it utilizes the reef and rocks for shelter. It is found in shallow waters, to a maximum depth of 15 m (Holthuis 1991). Furthermore, they are nocturnal and they only aggregate in very small numbers (Frisch 2007).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is harvested for food (M .J. Butler, A.C. Cockcroft and A.B. MacDiarmid pers. comm. 2008).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species may be experiencing localized declines due to fishing, but this is not believed to impacting upon the global population.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Management strategies for this species are few; any existing strategies are based on precautionary principles (Frisch 2007).

Bibliography [top]

Frisch, A.J. 2007. Growth and reproduction of the painted spiny lobster (Panulirus versicolor) on the Great Barrier Reef (Australia). Fisheries Research 85(1-2): 61-67.

Holthuis, L.B. 1991. Marine lobsters of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species of interest to fisheries known to date. FAO species catalogue 13(125). FAO, Rome.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: (Accessed: 16 June 2011).

Jayawickrema, S.J.C. 1991. Fishery and population dynamics of Panulirus homarus (Linnaeus) from Mutwal, Sri Lanka. Journal of National Science Council, Sri Lanka 19(1): 52-61.

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. and Grieve, C. 1993. Australian fisheries resources. Bureau of Resource Sciences, Canberra, Australia.

MacDonald, C.D. 1982. Catch composition and reproduction of the spiny lobster Panulirus versicolor at Palau. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 111: 694–699.

Radhakrishnan, E.V., Deshmukh, V.D., Manisseri, M.K.,Rajamani, I.M., Kizhakudan, J.K. and Thangaraja, R. 2005. Status of the major lobster fisheries in India. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 39: 723-732.

Vijayakumaran, M. and Radhakrishnan, E.V. 1997. Live transport and marketing of spiny lobsters in India. Marine and Freshwater Research 48(8): 823 - 828.

Citation: Cockcroft, A., Butler, M. & MacDiarmid, A. 2013. Panulirus versicolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 01 April 2015.
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