Munida gregaria

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Munida gregaria
Gregarious squat lobster in hand.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Anomura
Family: Munididae
Genus: Munida
M. gregaria
Binomial name
Munida gregaria
(Fabricius, 1793)
Synonyms [1]
  • Galathea gregaria
    Fabricius, 1793
  • Galathea subrugosaMiers, 1874
  • Grimothea gregaria
    (Fabricius, 1793)
  • Grimothea novaezealandiaeFilhol, 1885
  • Munida australiensis
    Henderson, 1888
  • Munida subrugosa
    Dana, 1852
  • Munida subrugosa var. australiensis
    Henderson, 1888

Munida gregaria, commonly known as the gregarious squat lobster, [2] is a species of squat lobster found along the eastern seaboard of the South Island of New Zealand, [3] around the southern coast of Tasmania and in a few locations around the southern parts of South America and Tierra del Fuego. [4]


Taxonomy and nomenclature

The species was first described from Patagonia by Johan Christian Fabricius in 1793. [5]

A study of population samples from New Zealand and from the Tierra del Fuego region indicate they are the same species, despite the large distance and deep ocean between these locations. [6]

Its specific epithet (gregaria) derives from its behaviour in the immature phase to form very large shoals or swarms of many tens of thousands of individuals in shallow coastal waters. This can result in mass strandings. [7]

Munida gregaria is sometimes referred to as lobster krill because it looks like a baby lobster and is found in swarms near the surface like krill. [8]

Habitat and distribution

In South America, the species has been identified in Chile, and the Strait of Magellan. During his voyage with James Cook on HMS Endeavour in 1769, Joseph Banks described small shoals near Cape Horn. [3]

Shoal of Munida gregaria at Diamond Harbour, New Zealand Shoal gregarious squat lobster.jpg
Shoal of Munida gregaria at Diamond Harbour, New Zealand

In New Zealand, Munida gregaria is most commonly found along the east coast of the South Island, particularly around Banks Peninsula and Otago . [7] However, they have also been observed in Milford Sound, [9] are occasionally seen around the southern parts of Cook Strait and the beaches of Nelson. [2] They generally live along coastlines where there is a mixing of coastal and oceanic waters to provide a sufficiently rich supply of food. [8]

There are many species of squat lobster, but M. gregaria is unusual in that it is only one of a very few of the Munida species that aggregate in large swarms. [2] Adult M. gregaria live on the sea floor and grow to around 5 cm (2.0 in) long. They have been found on the sea floor in the outer Marlborough Sounds and along the coastline from Cook Strait south to Campbell Island, where they have been observed at depths of 1,000 m (3,300 ft). [8]

In New Zealand waters, the larvae of M. gregaria undergo 5 stages of larval development from mid-winter until the postlarval metamorphosis in spring, when they form large swarms on the surface and heaped up on beaches. [10] They come inshore in large numbers during this phase of their life-cycle, seeking suitable habitat. [2] Some aggregations seen from the air have been in bands up to 10 m (33 ft) wide but 5 km (3.1 mi) long; formation of shoals varies from year to year, with little or no shoaling observed every 3 to 5 years. [10] The post-larval stage typically lasts until February when the animals begin the benthic phase of their life-cycle and settle on the sea floor. [2] Adults that settle on the bottom may live for 2 or 3 years. [10]

Related Research Articles

Antarctic krill Species of krill

Antarctic krill is a species of krill found in the Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean. It is a small, swimming crustacean that lives in large schools, called swarms, sometimes reaching densities of 10,000–30,000 individual animals per cubic metre. It feeds directly on minute phytoplankton, thereby using the primary production energy that the phytoplankton originally derived from the sun in order to sustain their pelagic life cycle. It grows to a length of 6 centimetres (2.4 in), weighs up to 2 grams (0.071 oz), and can live for up to six years. It is a key species in the Antarctic ecosystem and in terms of biomass, is one of the most abundant animal species on the planet.

Locust Grasshopper that has a swarming phase

Locusts are a group of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae that have a swarming phase. These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming gregarious. No taxonomic distinction is made between locust and grasshopper species; the basis for the definition is whether a species forms swarms under intermittently suitable conditions.

Swarm behaviour Collective behaviour of a large number of (usually) self-propelled entities of similar size

Swarm behaviour, or swarming, is a collective behaviour exhibited by entities, particularly animals, of similar size which aggregate together, perhaps milling about the same spot or perhaps moving en masse or migrating in some direction. It is a highly interdisciplinary topic. As a term, swarming is applied particularly to insects, but can also be applied to any other entity or animal that exhibits swarm behaviour. The term flocking or murmuration can refer specifically to swarm behaviour in birds, herding to refer to swarm behaviour in tetrapods, and shoaling or schooling to refer to swarm behaviour in fish. Phytoplankton also gather in huge swarms called blooms, although these organisms are algae and are not self-propelled the way animals are. By extension, the term "swarm" is applied also to inanimate entities which exhibit parallel behaviours, as in a robot swarm, an earthquake swarm, or a swarm of stars.

Krill Order of crustaceans

Krill are small crustaceans of the order Euphausiacea, and are found in all the world's oceans. The name "krill" comes from the Norwegian word krill, meaning "small fry of fish", which is also often attributed to species of fish.

Desert locust Species of grasshopper

The desert locust is a species of locust, a periodically swarming, short-horned grasshopper in the family Acrididae. They are found primarily in the deserts and dry areas of northern and eastern Africa, Arabia, and southwest Asia. During population surge years, they may extend north into parts of western Spain and southern Italy, south into Eastern Africa, and east in northern India. The desert locust shows periodic changes in its body form and can change in response to environmental conditions, over several generations, from a solitary, shorter-winged, highly fecund, non-migratory form to a gregarious, long-winged, and migratory phase in which they may travel long distances into new areas. In some years, they may thus form locust plagues, invading new areas, where they may consume all vegetation including crops, and at other times, they may live unnoticed in small numbers.

<i>Jasus edwardsii</i> Species of crustacean

Jasus edwardsii, the southern rock lobster, red rock lobster, or spiny rock lobster, is a species of spiny lobster found throughout coastal waters of southern Australia and New Zealand including the Chatham Islands. It is commonly called crayfish in Australia and New Zealand and kōura in Māori. They resemble lobsters, but lack the large characteristic pincers on the first pair of walking legs.

Squat lobster Decapod crustaceans in the infraorder Anomura

Squat lobsters are dorsoventrally flattened crustaceans with long tails held curled beneath the cephalothorax. They are found in the two superfamilies Galatheoidea and Chirostyloidea, which form part of the decapod infraorder Anomura, alongside groups including the hermit crabs and mole crabs. They are distributed worldwide in the oceans, and occur from near the surface to deep sea hydrothermal vents, with one species occupying caves above sea level. More than 900 species have been described, in around 60 genera. Some species form dense aggregations, either on the sea floor or in the water column, and a small number are commercially fished.


Langostino is a Spanish word with different meanings in different areas. In the United States, it is commonly used in the restaurant trade to refer to the meat of the squat lobster, which is neither a true lobster nor a prawn. Squat lobsters are more closely related to porcelain and hermit crabs. Crustaceans labeled as langostino are no more than 8 cm (3 in) long, and weigh no more than 200 g (7 oz). Langostinos are not langoustes despite a similar name. Also, langostinos are sometimes confused with langoustines.

<i>Arripis trutta</i> Species of fish

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Narrowmouthed catshark Species of shark

The narrowmouthed catshark is a catshark of the family Scyliorhinidae, found from central Chile around the Straits of Magellan, to Argentina between latitudes 23° S and 56° S, at depths down to about 180 m (600 ft) in the Atlantic Ocean and about 360 m (1,200 ft) in the Pacific. It can grow to a length of up to 70 cm (28 in). The reproduction of this catshark is oviparous.

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Enteroctopus megalocyathus, also known as Patagonian red octopus (EN), Pulpo del sur (Chile) and Pulpo colorado (Argentina); is a medium-sized octopus, and the type species for the genus Enteroctopus.

Forage fish Small prey fish

Forage fish, also called prey fish or bait fish, are small pelagic fish which are preyed on by larger predators for food. Predators include other larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Typical ocean forage fish feed near the base of the food chain on plankton, often by filter feeding. They include particularly fishes of the order Clupeiformes, but also other small fish, including halfbeaks, silversides, smelt such as capelin and goldband fusiliers.

Southern Ocean Ocean around Antarctica

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. As such, with 20,327,000 km2, it is regarded as the second-smallest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean. Over the past 30 years, the Southern Ocean has been subject to rapid climate change, which has led to changes in the marine ecosystem.

<i>Munida</i> Genus of crustaceans

Munida is the largest genus of squat lobsters in the family Munididae, with over 240 species.

<i>Plesionida</i> Genus of crustaceans

Plesionida is a genus of squat lobsters in the family Munididae. As of 2017, it contains the following species:

<i>Paranotothenia magellanica</i> Species of fish

Paranotothenia magellanica), also known as Magellanic rockcod, Maori cod, blue notothenia or orange throat notothen, is a species of marine ray-finned fish, belonging to the family Nototheniidae, the notothens or cod icefishes. It is native to the Southern Ocean. "Maori chief" and "black cod", sometimes used for this species, usually refer to fishes from the related genus Notothenia. Being a perciform fish, it is unrelated to the true cods of the order Gadiformes. This species is commercially important as a food fish.

<i>Munida rugosa</i> Species of crustacean

Munida rugosa, commonly known as the rugose squat lobster or plated lobster, is a species of decapod crustacean found in the north east Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Munida abelloi is a species of squat lobster in the family Munididae. The species name is dedicated to Pere Abellô. It is found off of Kiribati and Futuna Island, at depths between about 105 and 400 metres.

<i>Munida quadrispina</i> Species of crustacean

Munida quadrispina is a species of squat lobster. It was originally described to science by James E. Benedict in 1902. This and other species of squat lobsters are sometimes referred to as "pinch bugs".

Patagonotothen brevicauda, the Patagonian rockcod, is a species of marine ray-finned fish, belonging to the family Nototheniidae, the notothens or cod icefishes. It is native to oceans of the Patagonian region, including Tierra del Fuego, the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel and the Falkland Islands.


  1. "Munida gregaria (Fabricius, 1793)". WoRMS. World Register of Marine Species. Archived from the original on 15 April 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 O'Connell, Tim (20 November 2018). "The thrill of lobster krill turns seas red in Tasman Bay". Stuff. Archived from the original on 10 July 2022. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  3. 1 2 "Critter of the Week: Munida gregaria – The gregarious squat lobster". National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. 29 April 2016. Archived from the original on 11 January 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  4. "Munida gregaria". Reef Life Survey. Archived from the original on 11 January 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  5. Johann Christian Fabricius, Entomologia systematica emandata et aucta. Secundum classes, ordines, genera, species adjectis synonimis, locis, observationibus descriptionibus (in Latin), doi:10.5962/BHL.TITLE.36532, Wikidata   Q54676224
  6. "Dog-walking surprise – clumps of small, orange crustaceans scattered along the beach". Stuff. 24 November 2018. Archived from the original on 10 July 2022. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  7. 1 2 Roy, Eleanor Ainge (29 May 2020). "New Zealand beaches turn red as lobsters dig in to the death". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 July 2022. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  8. 1 2 3 Nicoll, Jared (18 February 2013). "Lobster krill swarm". Stuff. Archived from the original on 10 July 2022. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  9. O'Callaghan, Jody (9 January 2016). "Southern seas red with krill". Stuff. Archived from the original on 10 July 2022. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  10. 1 2 3 John Zeldis (28 February 1985). "Ecology of <i>Munida gregaria</i> (Decapoda, Anomura): distribution and abundance, population dynamics and fisheries" (PDF). Marine Ecology Progress Series . 22: 77–99. doi:10.3354/MEPS022077. ISSN   0171-8630. JSTOR   24816027. Wikidata   Q113112448.