Unlike American or European lobsters spiny lobsters do not have large claws. Instead they defend themselves with their whip-like antennae. These have numerous spines that also occur on their body, which gives them their common name.

The first part of their scientific name Panulirus derived from Palinurus the helmsman of Aeneas’ ship in Roman mythology, referring to their wandering habit. The second part, argus, refers to the giant of Greek mythology who had a hundred eyes. It is the four large ‘eye-spots’ on their tail that distinguishes P. argus from other spiny lobsters in the Caribbean.