Squat lobsters are often very colourful and have attracted the attention of pirates, explorers and naturalists ever since the first global exploration voyages in the early 15th century. They are characterized by having a compressed and elongated head and thorax covered by a rigid exoskeleton, an abdomen tucked under the thorax and a large and elongated pair of front claws.
As well as being used for human consumption, there is demand for squat lobster meat as feed in fish, shrimp or prawn farms. This is in part because they contain astaxanthin, a pigment that helps to colour the meat of farmed salmon and trout.
Galathea is one of the largest genera of squat lobsters comprising of 70 species. The name of the newest member is derived from the Japanese “Ryuguu” (Sea God’s Palace), in reference to the vivid colors of the new species and its host sea fan both representing an image of secret beauty in the sea.
For the experts: A new shallow-water squat lobster, Galathea ryuguu, is described on the basis of material obtained from a colony of unidentified sea fan of the genus Muricella Verrill, 1868. The new species is most closely allied to G. squamea Baba, 1979, but is distinguished by the ornamentation and armature of the carapace, third maxilliped, and ambulatory legs.