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Characteristics, distribution and ecology
Taxonomische classification
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Barnard, 1926

Carapace before cervical groove naked. Abdominal somites two to five with two transverse grooves. Anterior groove of abdominal somites two to five shorter and less distinct than the posterior groove. Merus of walking legs cylindrical and naked.

Type locality: of P. gilchristi delagoae: off Delagoa Bay, S. Mozambique,"25°58'S., 33°5'E., 228 metres, sand and shell"; male type evidently lost, a neotype selected by Berry and Plante, 1973: 374; the neotype locality is: "off Tongaat, Natal, 324 m", South Africa. Neotype male in SAM, no. A 13179 (in alcohol condition good).
Type locality of P. gilchristi natalensis: "Natal coast, from off Umkomaas River in the south as far north as off Tugela River and off Delagoa Bay, 100-260 fathoms [=183-480 m]"; syntypes in SAM.

Geographical Distribution:
Indo-West Pacific region: Eastcoast of Africa from 17°S (Mozambique) to 30°S (Natal, South Africa), south east Madagascar.

Habitat and Biology:
Reported from 0 to 400 m depth, usually between 180 and 324m. Off South Africa it is found on muddy or sandy substrates, sometimes with coral fragments; off Madagascar it has been reported from a rocky substrate. The species is gregarious and seems to migrate; it can sometimes be caught in enormous numbers.

Maximum total body length 35 cm, carapace lengthto 17 cm; average carapace length about 10 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
Off south east Africa the species is taken by trawlers, while off Madagascar, lobster pots were used during experimental fishing. It is marketed frozen. The annual catch was 89 tons in 1987 and 25 tons in 1988 (FAO Yearbook of Fishery Statistics, 1990).

Natal spiny lobster (Palinurus delagoae)