About the project

The Baseline Characterization of Spiny Lobsters project is a collaboration between researchers and volunteers at California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State University, and the San Diego Oceans Foundation. In this project, scientists, stakeholders, managers, and volunteers formed a partnership to generate information on baseline levels of abundance, size distribution, behavior, and consumptive use of one of California’s most valuable fishery species, the California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus).

Over the course of this project, researchers focused on:

  • quantifying lobster density inside and outside MPAs in San Diego and Orange Counties;

  • linking lobster density and distribution to habitat features;

  • quantifying and characterizing lobster movement behavior;

  • using lobster catch records from stakeholders and the California Department
    of Fish and Wildlife to determine landings and catch per unit effort
    (CPUE); and

  • documenting short-term changes in fishing effort and efficiency due to MPA establishment.

A key component of this project was a collaboration with lobster fishermen from San Diego, Laguna Beach, and Palos Verdes to implement a tag-recapture program to generate estimates of lobster abundance at  large spatial scales as well as size distribution and rates of movement across MPA boundaries (spillover). The tag-recapture program was paired with SCUBA-based dive surveys by scientists and students to provide independent estimates of lobster abundance and habitat use.


Researchers described their findings from this project in a technical report, released in March 2015. Click below to read the report on California Sea Grant's website.

Final Report: Baseline Characterization of California Spiny Lobsters


Data from this project are listed below. You can also access the data through the OceanSpaces data archive, and learn more about each data package.