Changing Planet

Desventuradas Expedition: Where Giant Lobsters Roam

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala is setting off on his first big expedition of the year: to explore the remote islands of Desventuradas, hundreds of miles off the coast of Chile. Follow his adventures throughout the month.

25 February 2013

The Juan Fernández lobster (Jasus frontalis) is the only species targeted by a specific fishery at the Desventuradas Islands. Fishermen from Juan Fernández travel more than 500 nautical miles to fish them during a short season. Adult Juan Fernández lobsters are typically deep – generally between 60 and 150 meters – while their juvenile are at scuba diving depths. With our submarine DeepSee we observed many adult lobsters deep, but we could not believe how large they were. So we did some deep rebreather dives to try to see some from up close – and still, it was hard to believe how huge those monster lobsters were. These photos show a lobster we filmed and measured. Yours truly is behind it in one of the photos. It was 54 cm (21 inches) from head to tail, without the spines, and almost 7 kg (15 pounds). These are the largest lobsters I’ve seen in my life. Everywhere else, lobsters are much smaller, mainly because they are fished intensely. The Desventuradas are remote and only lightly fished, and still harbor what appears to be one of the healthiest lobster populations in the Pacific.

NEXT: A Surprise Stowaway

The Desventuradas are lightly fished and home to the healthiest lobster populations in the Pacific. (Photos by Manu San Félix)
The Desventuradas are lightly fished and home to the healthiest lobster populations in the Pacific. (Photos by Manu San Félix)


Learn More

Follow All Desventuradas 2013 Blog Posts

Enric Sala’s Pristine Seas Expeditions

Desventuradas Blogs en Español

Marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who combines science, exploration and media to help restore marine life. Sala’s scientific publications are used for conservation efforts such as the creation of marine protected areas. 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.
  • Cynthia

    That is so cool!

  • Wesley

    It kind of makes you wonder how much larger most of the sea’s creatures could be if their populations weren’t being decimated by human beings.

  • Enrica

    Now that people know that in Desperadas Island there are big lobster, certainly somone will go to spoil also this last nature paradise where lobster can still grow. It ‘s a pity! places like that must remain a secret, to be protected.

  • Livia

    That’s awesome ! 🙂

  • Claudia

    Keeping things like this secret doesn’t work in the benefit of the animal, it’s ecology or human knowledge. Everything is connected, knowing what makes these lobsters grow so much larger is the start of learning how to preserve the species. we have to understand something in order to know how to protect it.

  • Youfan

    Look at its size… The same size with an adult man’s body.

  • Jusaner

    keep the area protected from poachers

  • Linn

    it’s massive..

  • Not telling!

    That lobster is big. Animals Rock!

  • Beno

    Woah nice, are these vegetarian lobsters?

    I have seen them just as big if not bigger here in Western Australia at the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, (about 50 nautical miles off the coast of Geraldton).

    It has been over 10 years though since i have seen one that size. Heavily fished yet regulated areas.

  • Victoria

    The photos are fabulous. Let’s work on protecting these areas! Very important to preserve them.

  • Paul Subrata Malakar

    Hi Enric,
    Thank you for exploring sea life with us. We do not get this size in Bangladesh. Keep up your spirit for the work and good luck.

  • kolade

    This is amazing ! Kudos to you please keep exploring.

  • Kenneth

    Wow, that is so cool.

  • betty ross

    What an amazing place; it would be very special to be able to dive this area. It must be a “no take” zone, however; so that these animals will not be taken to extinction as are some in the more popular diving locations.

  • Mike O’Neill

    At one time the Galapagos isles were the pristine ‘place’ of wonder, now it is on the order of an amusement park.
    Lets hope this place remains intact for observation as an environmental ‘ control ‘, from which we can glean more accurate and fundamental Biome food chain ratios from which to determine reconstructive norms supporting other mitigation projects.

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