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Marine invertebrates

Scotland’s coast and seas support a staggering array of invertebrates, including commercially exploited species like crab, lobster, scallop and langoustine.

The magnificent European spiny lobster – also known as crayfish or crawfish – is one of our most impressive seabed animals. Bright yellow-orange in colour, often with purple tinges, this large crustacean grows up to 60cm long.

European spiny lobster fisheries are locally important, but populations of the crustacean have declined considerably since the 1970s. This is probably at least in part due to tangle netting replacing traditional pots and creels.

The native or common oyster is a marine bivalve mollusc found in Scotland mainly on our west and north coasts. Its rough, irregularly shaped shell grows up to about 10cm across.

People have harvested or cultivated the native oyster for centuries. It once supported abundant fisheries in several parts of Scotland but now occurs mainly in scattered populations fringing our sea lochs.