The Humble Kreef
The Cape rock lobster or West Coast rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) is a species of spiny lobster found off the coast of Southern Africa. But colloquially, it is known and loved as Kreef.
Down in a crevice, under the sea
Cape Rock Lobsters are found mainly in the cool, shallow waters from Cape Cross, Namibia to Algoa Bay, South Africa, straddling the Cape of Good Hope. It may be found as deep as 46 metres (150 ft) and is usually found on rocky bottoms and reefs where it prefers the shelter of crevices. Often seen in groups with antennae protruding from the shelter. Rock lobsters will swim backwards in emergencies using the tail, but generally they crawl in a forward direction around on the reef, feeding on mussels, urchins and barnacles.
Kreef is also a known scavenger and will feast on the remains of other animals.
Predators include seals, sharks and large fish.
Rock lobsters are susceptible to low oxygen levels in the water which may cause mass strandings.
How will I know one when I see it?
These crustaceans are notoriously slow growing animals, but are also very long-lived.
They can be distinguished from trues lobsters by their orange to red-brown colouring and unlike true lobsters, they have long, thick antennae extending from the front of the head and no claws. Their fanned tails come in hues of orange, blue and green. The thorax is spiny and the eyes are black and stalked.
West Coast Rock Lobsters are prized for their firm, sweet flesh and are considered one of the treasures that South Africa offers to the world seafood market.
What’s cookin’ good lookin’?
West Coast Rock Lobsters is low in saturated fats and is an excellent source of Vitamin E, Niacin, Potassium, Zinc and Manganese. Added to that, Kreef is a rich source of Protein, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium.
But, unfortunately, as with all crustaceans, it is high in cholesterol. At 34 South we suggest having the live Crayfish steamed, served with a fresh garden salad, so that one can appreciate the subtle flavour
Preserving a Commodity
The West Coast Rock Lobster is listed as orange on SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative: www.wwfsassi.co.za/) which means that they are available for comercial sale, but in limited quantities and only during certain “seasons”. In this case the West Coast Rock Lobster is available from the end of November till about April, with commercial fisherman and companies only being allowed to catch 1,700 tons, and NO ovigerious females (females that are brooding their eggs) are allowed to be caught. These restrictions on the catch rates will allow the West Coast Rock Lobster to naturally rebuild their stocks in the wild and hopefully the species will, in time, find itself back on the SASSI’s green list.