Tagging and visual surveys by divers were used to investigate patterns of den habitation by Panulirus ornatus (Fabricius) in Torres Strait. Several locations representing two distinct habitats and, consequently, den types were sampled. On the shallow reef-tops, lumps of coral
or rock form “rock” dens, offering fixed, permanent shelter. Along reef edges and in deeper water, shallow holes in loose coral rubble form “rubble” dens, which offer temporary shelter. The lobsters showed two different patterns of den habitation. Where “rock”
dens were the principal type, the lobsters were gregarious: over 70% were found in groups of two or more. In areas in which “rubble” dens predominated, almost all the lobsters were solitary. Recaptures of tagged animals indicated that few rock lobsters moved between reef systems
more than 5 km apart. However, they appeared to move regularly between dens and between areas within any single reef system. Consequently, the distribution of lobsters among the dens on the reef was variable.
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