Lobster Diving 101—with Jupiter Dive Center!

Lobster season is almost upon us, and with a little planning, you can not only have a memorable dive, but you just might catch dinner as well! Don’t know your tickle sticks from a snare? Read on. Jupiter Dive Center has all the gear, info, and boats you’ll need to make the most of lobster season while keeping yourself and your buddy safe! 

First a bit about the spiny lobster

Spiny lobster are native to Florida, and unlike northern lobster, they lack claws, but they do have two long spiny antennae. As their name suggests, they have forward-pointing spines that cover their bodies and protect them from predators. They can grow up to 18 inches in body length and can weigh in at 15 pounds!

Their habitat includes reefs, seagrass fields, and hard-bottom locations. Nocturnal, they are most active at night and can often be found out in the open. During the day, they tuck into the reef crevices. They often congregate, so if you see one, check the immediate vicinity for more.

According to the FWC site, females carry bright orange eggs on the underside of their tail until the eggs turn brown and larvae are released. 

Lobster in the coral

Lobster Seasons

JDC-Lobster-on-a-tank

Attention Florida residents!!! A new lobster season day was just added for Florida Residents only! July 14 is now open to catch lobster! The afternoon boat is dedicated to lobster drops.

The two traditional lobster seasons; first is the 2-day Spiny Lobster Sport Season which runs annually on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July. In 2024 it opens at 12:01 a.m. on July 24th and ends at midnight on July 25th.

The second is the much longer regular season that runs from August 6, 2024, through March 31, 2025.

Regulations

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers are out in force during sport season and it is each diver’s responsibility to know and comply with the latest regulations. Make sure you have a current recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit to harvest spiny lobster. The harvesting of any egg-bearing lobster is prohibited. Likewise, don’t use any device that is going to puncture or crush the shell or flesh of the lobster. Undersized lobsters must be released unharmed.

  • Minimum size limit: Carapace must be larger than three inches, measured in the water. Possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times. 

And just in case you don’t already know, here’s how to measure a spiny lobster. 

  • The daily bag limit during sport season in Jupiter is 12 lobsters per day!
  • The daily bag limit during the regular season is six lobsters.
JDC-Lobster-measuring

Gear

Gear is always a personal choice, but most people use a tickle stick and net combo to catch lobsters. They are both inexpensive and easy to use. Once you find a lobster, you’ll need to position your net close. The tickle stick is designed to go behind the lobster and nudge it from its hiding place. Lobster can move pretty quickly, so be prepared. It may take a bit of practice. Good buoyancy is the key.

JDC-Lobsters

The next popular method of catching lobster is using a snare—which is essentially a catch pole. There is a wire at one end which you’ll loop around the lobster and when it’s in place, you’ll draw the wire extending from the other end of the pole tight. 

Finally, there are good ol’ hands. Put on a pair of gloves and try your luck.  

Anytime you are diving for lobster, state regulations require that you have a measuring device to ensure your catch is of legal size.

The easiest to carry and use is a lobster gauge—a flat piece of metal or plastic that has a cutout that measures the minimum legal length of a lobster.

Even diving during the day, you’ll want a flashlight for a couple of reasons. First, lobsters like to hide in dark places. Second, you don’t want to plunge your hand into a place that may also be harboring an eel or lionfish.

Speaking of which one bit of hunting gear you may want to have with you is a lionfish spear. You are NOT allowed to spear lobster, but lobster and lionfish like the same habitat and it’s not uncommon for a lionfish to be the only thing to stand between you and the biggest lobster you’ve ever seen. Lionfishes are an invasive species that wreak havoc on the reefs.

Divers can kill or harvest a lionfish without a license and limit. The bonus is they’re delicious. If you do harvest them for food, beware the spines. They can pack a painful wallop. 

JDC-Lionfish-in-Lobster-Blog

Speaking of gear…If you haven’t been diving since the mini-season, don’t forget to make sure your scuba equipment is in good shape and serviced before you hit the water. All the diving off Jupiter is drift diving and divers are required to have their own surface marker buoy.

Safety

On the boat

Listen to the boat briefings! Jupiter Dive Center crews will discuss the conditions, the site, boat procedures, and what to do in an emergency—all to make sure your dive is safe and enjoyable.

In the water

Either pull a float or be with someone who is. All Jupiter Dive Center charters have a diver who pulls a float so you don’t have to. But let’s face it, it’s lobster season. You and your dive buddy need to plan your dive and dive your plan—regardless of where other divers go. Carry—and know how to deploy—a surface marker buoy. More on that later…

Watch your gauges. In the thrill of the chase, it’s easy to go deeper and stay longer than you intended. And speaking of keeping an eye on things, pay attention to your buddy. Hunting or not, the unexpected can still happen.

At the end of the dive

Make sure to start your ascent with at least 800 PSI in your tank to complete your safety stop. As you ascend, listen for boat traffic. The waterways see more private boating during these two days than probably any other time of year. Because sound travels four times faster in water, it is impossible to guess a boat’s direction of travel. Look up and make sure your path is clear. And remember to inflate your surface marker buoy!

Charters

We’re offering additional charters during sport season that leave earlier and offer 3-tank dive options. These charters fill quickly—Book Your Dive now! 

Wednesday, July 24

3-tank charter Check in at 6:30 a.m. - FULL

2-tank charter Check in at 1:30 p.m.


Thursday, July 25

3-tank charter Check in at 6:30 a.m. - FULL

2-tank charter Check in at 1:30 p.m.

If you didn’t get your limit during the sport season, don’t worry.  Once the regular lobster season opens, we’re dedicating both our morning and afternoon trips on August 6th and the afternoon charter on the 7th to lobster dives. After the initial opening, we will continue to dedicate our Wednesday and Friday afternoon charters to lobster hunters for the rest of the season. 

Whew! Thanks for reading to the end. We, at Jupiter Dive Center, want to help you make the most of lobster season. And that means keeping you informed of the equipment you’ll need, how to comply with state regulations, and how to stay safe. Most of all, we want you to have a great time. 

Come dive with us!

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