Category Archives: Crustacean



This aquarium allowed flash in some exhibits but not in others. It really makes a difference in the quality of the image, but I do wonder why each aquarium has completely different rules about what can and can not be flashed. Doesn’t seem very science-based.

Electric White Lobster

Electric White Lobster_3

This is an electric white lobster. Why is it called that? Because it’s white, and it’s related to the electric blue crayfish. Neither have electric powers. Instead, the colour is named after lightning and, apparently, was popular in the 1890’s where they distinguished between deep electric blue (aka French electric blue), iridescent electric blue, medium electric blue, and dark electric blue.

Wikipedia takes care to note that iridescent electric blue is only metaphorically electric and metaphorically iridescent. However, odds are that you are looking at this on some sort of computer screen, so it is metaphorically iridescent, but all of these blues are actually electric.

That also means that, even though there is no such thing as electric white, the white you are seeing in the electric white lobster above is, actually, electric. It’s other name is the White Ghost Lobster. It, however, neither a lobster nor a ghost.

This is a crayfish.

Blue Crayfish

Blue Crawfish_2

According to Wikipedia, crayfish are also known as crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs or yabbies. Taxonomically, we know they’re in the super-families Astacoidea and Parastacoidea. Linguistically, though, it’s a bit messy.

The term “cray” come from the French word “escrevisse”. Because they live in water, people tack on the word “fish”, even though it’s clearly not one of those. Here in America, “Cray” is trademarked*, so the stem-word “craw” is preferred. In the midwest, we know from fishes so we call them “crawdads” instead … apparently our fathers were all lobster-like. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But wait! It gets even messier. In Singapore, “crayfish” is what they call the slipper lobster, something entirely different … except when it refers to a different species, invasive, which is more commonly known as the Australian red claw crayfish, the Queensland red claw, the redclaw, the tropical blue crayfish, and the freshwater blueclaw crayfish.

Deeper into the linguistic messiness, it appears that in Australia, New Zealand and, oddly, South Africa all these names refer to a type of spiny lobster. With “crawfish” referring to the saltwater version and “yabby” meaning the freshwater species … unless they’re talking about some different species, the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish or the Murray crayfish.

And this, my friends, is why biologists have to rename everything in Latin.

* This may not actually be the reason

Spot Prawn

Spot Prawn

The important thing to remember about evolution is that nothing is moving along any sort of master plan. Evolutions just sort of steps in and tweaks stuff until it’s good enough for survival. Then it tells the critter “go eat something and have sex”.

Many evolved features make more sense when you keep this mind.