Crawfish - Palinurus Elephas

Phylum - Crustacea

Class - Eumalacostraca

Order - Decapoda

Family - Palinuridae

Genus - Palinurus

Size - Body Length : Up to 60cm


Crawfish are found on open exposed rock faces and rocky seabed in the circalittoral and infralittoral zones. Numbers have been severely depleted on most coasts by tangle net fishing.


A large spiny lobster, growing up to 60 cm in total length, with a stout, heavily armoured body. The colour is usually orange dorsally with darker spines and white underneath but brown, sandy and purple morphs are occasionally found (Hunter et al., 1996; Hunter, 1999). It has numerous sharp spines on the carapace, over much of the abdomen and on the larger appendages. There are two long antennae and small hook-like claws.

Key Features

  • Carapace covered with forward-directed spines; supra-orbital spines particularly prominent
  • Antennal stalks very heavy and spiny; flagellum stout, tapering and longer than body.
  • Typically orange colouration but may also be brown, sandy or purple.
  • There are two large symmetrical white blotches on the tergites of somites 1-5, a single central blotch on the last segment and two blotches on the telson.
  • Small hook like claws.

Minimum sizes

Do not take Crawfish smaller than 110 mm carapace length.

The carapace length is the distance between the back of the eyesocket and the rear of the carapace, as illustrated in the diagram below. Fishing Gauge Position for Measuring a Crawfish.

Recorded Distibution

The main populations are confined to the west coast of Scotland, the extreme south-west coasts of England & Wales and the west coast of Ireland.Recorded (•) and expected distribution in Britain and Ireland. UK and Ireland Distribution of Crawfish Species Palinurus Elephas

Also known in Britain as the crayfish, spiny lobster or rock lobster, and the langouste rouge (red spiny lobster), langouste commune or langouste royale (royal spiny lobster) in France.

Habitat Preferences

Physiological Preference - Open Coast / Offshore Sea Bed
Biological Zone Preference - N/A
Substratum / habitat preferences - Bedrock, Large to very large boulders and Small boulders
Tidal strength preferences - N/A
Wave exposure preferences - Extremely Exposed, Very Exposed and Exposed
Salinity preferences - N/A

Need to measure Crawfish?

Why not look at our crawfish measuring gauge page.

Fishing Gauges by Alexander Pollock
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