Meet ula-päpapa, the slipper lobsters. Looking a bit like a flattened bulldozer, these crustaceans are decapods, "ten-leggers," as are shrimp, prawns, and crabs. Their most prominent feature are two modified and flattened antennae that appear like shovels sticking out of their heads. Three species that may be seen on the reef include the scaly slipper lobster (Scyllarides squammosus), the Antarctic slipper (Parribacus antarcticus), and the hump-backed slipper (Scyllarides haani). Slipper lobsters generally lie low during the day, either blending in with their surroundings or holing up in the many crevices the reef affords. Come nightfall, they scavenge and dine on the brok da mout smorgasbord of the reef, consuming shrimp, worms, snails, urchins; some even snack upon anemones. Of course, they themselves are pretty ono. Predators include octopi, triggerfish, and groupers, as well as humans. Regulations have been established for the taking of slipper lobsters: 1) they must be of a certain size (2 3/4" tail length), 2) they may only be taken from September through April, 3) no taking of hapai "berried" females, and 4) they may not be spearfished.
Their life cycle begins with the laying of eggs, which the female carries around under her body. Upon hatching, the larvae drift around for the better part of a year, eventually taking up life on the reef. Because their exoskeleton is inelastic, slippers must moult periodically to accommodate their growth. A new but soft shell forms beneath the old, and when ready to go, the exoskeleton will crack at the junction of the body and tail. With a bit of wriggling, the lobster slips out. Chee, I wen bus my slippah! This is a particularly vulnerable time for the not so crusty crustacean, and they tend to go into hiding until the shell hardens.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.