In March, 2010,
Dennis McCrea sent me this photo of a small squat lobster that Debra
Newbery had found at a depth of 80 ft. off the Kona coast of the
Big Island. I sent the photo on to Japanese crustacean expert Dr.
Keiji Baba, who expressed great interest and requested specimens.
Dennis and Debra collected two specimens in April 2010 and sent
them to Dr. Baba, who wrote back that it is a new species. Dr. Baba
published a full scientific description in April 2011 and named
it after Debra! See: Zootaxa 2812: 2127 (2011)
These fun little animals seem most numerous in the area around Kawaihae
on the Big Island of Hawaii. Keoki Stender has posted photos
of one at Pupukea, O`ahu.
If you find any elsewhere, please let me know. (update
7-12-13 see below!)
also took some video of
this animal. She writes:
5 different critters - 4 within a couple feet of each other and
1 in another area about 15 feet away. All at around 85 feet deep.
Altogether in the 2 areas, we saw 9 or 10. (I'm sure there's more)
We tried a mirror to see if it would get one curious to come out
Rob Whitton found what certainly appears to be the same species
while diving off French Frigate Shoals in May 2013. Here is a still
from video he shot. This suggests that the center of population
for this species might well be in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,
which would help explain why these are so rare and localized in
the main Hawaiian Islands.