Fun Facts about Luscious Lobsters
Fascinating facts about our tasty lobster friends.
How many kinds of lobsters are there in the United States?
There are two kinds of lobster-like crustaceans in United States waters. The "true" lobster (the American lobster) is designated as such to differentiate it from the spiny lobster. They have two differences:
- True (American) lobster has claws on the first four legs, which the spiny lobster does not.
- Spiny lobster has a pair of horns above the eyes, which the true lobster does not.
To avoid confusion over common names, we call the true lobster the "American lobster," and the spiny lobster just that.
The item marketed as "lobster tail" usually is a spiny lobster. The spiny lobster is found in warm waters off Florida, in the West Indies, and off southern California.
How big do lobsters get?
The record weight for the American lobster is 45 pounds.
How far do lobsters travel?
Inshore lobsters tend to stay in one place, seldom moving more than a mile or so. Deepwater lobsters farther out on the Continental Shelf follow a seasonal migratory pattern shoreward in summer, returning to the shelf again in the autumn. The record travel so far is 225 miles, covered by a lobster tagged off the Continental Shelf and recovered at Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York.
What color is a lobster's blood?
Lobster blood is colorless. When exposed to oxygen, it develops a bluish color.
What are some other names for lobsters?
The American lobster is also known as the Massachusetts lobster, the Maine lobster, the Canadian lobster or the North Atlantic lobster.
Where are lobsters caught?
The American Lobster is found on the east coast of North America, from Newfoundland to North Carolina. In 1996, more than 70 million pounds of lobsters were landed in the U.S. Approximately 80 percent of U.S. landings come from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
What do lobsters eat?
Lobsters usually move around and hunt for food at night. People used to think that lobsters were scavengers and ate primarily dead things. However, researchers have discovered that lobsters catch mainly fresh food (except for bait) which includes fish, crabs, clams, mussels, sea urchins, and sometimes even other lobsters!
Is the number of lobsters dwindling?
Lobster landings have increased significantly in the last decade. However, the number of traps and general efficiency of the fishing industry have also increased. In the Northeast lobsters are considered to be generally overfished.
Fishermen and managers are working together to develop management measures which will help ensure adequate egg production to sustain the resource and fishery. Presently major conservation measures include safeguarding lobsters smaller than 3-1/4" carapace length. (Carapace, or shell, length is measured from the rear of the eye socket to the rear of the main body shell). Any lobster that is smaller in carapace length than 3-1/4" must be returned unharmed to the sea. These lobsters are known as "shorts" or "sub-legals."
Egg-bearing females are also protected, and must be placed back in the sea if they are caught. Lobster traps must have escape vents to allow sublegal size lobsters to exit the trap while it is still on the bottom (they can come in, eat, and leave). Not all "shorts" leave, however, so the lobstermen must throw them.
Lobster traps must also have biodegradable escape panels which will create a large opening and neutralize the fishing potential of a lost trap.
Do lobsters lay eggs?
Yes, lobsters lay eggs. A freshly-laid lobster egg is the size of the head of a pin (1/16"). A 1-pound female lobster usually carries approximately 8000 eggs. A 9-pound female may carry more than 100,000 eggs. The female lobster carries the eggs inside for 9 to 12 months and then for another 9 to 12 months attached to the swimmerets under her tail. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will float near the surface for 4 to 6 weeks. The few that survive will settle to the bottom and continue to develop as baby lobsters. From every 50,000 eggs, only two lobsters are expected to survive to legal size.
Where do lobsters live?
Small lobsters (less than 1-1/2" carapace length) hide in and abround sea weeds and rocky habitat that provide adequate food and shelter from predators. Adolescent lobsters (1-1/2" to 3- 1/2" carapace length) dominate coastal habitats and offshore areas. They migrate very little. Larger, more mobile, adult lobsters may live in deeper waters and may return seasonally to shallow warmer waters.
When do lobsters mate?
A female lobster mates mostly when she is in the soft-shell state right after she has shed her shell. Female lobsters can carry live sperm for up to two years. At any time she may decide to fertilize her 3,000-75,000 eggs. By law, a female lobster carrying eggs must be thrown back if it is caught.
How does a lobster grow?
Lobsters grow by molting. This is the process in which they struggle out of their old shells while absorbing water which expands their body size. This molting, or shell-shedding, occurs about 25 times in the first 5-7 years of a lobster's life. Following this cycle, the lobster will weigh approximately one pound and reach minimum legal size. A lobster at minimum legal size may then only molt once per year and increase about 15 percent in length and 40 percent in weight.
No one has yet found a way to determine the exact age of a lobster. However, based on scientific knowledge of body size at age, the maximum age attained may approach 100 years. They can grow to be 3 feet or more in overall body length.
If lobsters molt, why have I never seen a cast-off shell?
After molting, lobsters will eat voraciously, often devouring their own recently vacated shells. This replenishment of lost calcium hastens the hardening of the new shell which takes about 14-30 days from the actual loss of the old shell.
How many times must a lobster molt before it reaches market size?
Lobsters molt 20 to 30 times before they reach the one-pound market size.
Do many young lobsters survive to old age?
Lobster babies swim at water surface for 25 days. Only one percent make it to the bottom. These young lobsters shed their shells about ten times in their first year. A near-shore lobster has a 90 percent chance of ending up on someone's dinner plate.
How old is a one-pound lobster?
No one knows exactly, but aquarium studies suggest 5 to 7 years.
How long can a lobster live out of water?
Lobsters can live several days if kept in a cool, moist environment. The lobster is a gill-breather, and moisture is essential to survival.
Can a lobster be kept alive in fresh water with ice?
No. Fresh water is lethal to a lobster. The animal has salty blood and tissue, which require a seawater environment if life is to be maintained.
What is tomalley?
Tomalley is the lobster's liver. It turns green when cooked and is considered a delicacy.
What's the coral-colored material you see in a cooked lobster?
Coral is the egg mass of a female lobster. Cooking colors the tiny eggs a deep coral or red.
Does a dead lobster spoil rapidly?
If the lobster is "headed" before or soon after death, the body meat will keep fresh longer. This is because the so-called head includes the thorax, where most of the viscera and gills are. They spoil much more rapidly than claw or tail meat.
How many 1-pound lobsters make a pound of lobster meat?
Five, on the average.
Why does a lobster turn red when cooked?
The red pigment is the most stable component of the coloring in a lobster shell. The greens and browns which darken the shell in a live lobster are destroyed by cooking.
How can you tell if a boiled lobster was alive when cooked?
When a lobster dies, its tail loses its elasticity and ability to curl under the body. When plunged into boiling water, a live lobster curls its tail under. It remains in that position during and after cooking.
Are lobsters poisonous if they die before being cooked?
Lobsters are not poisonous if they die before cooking, but you should cook them quickly. Many lobsters sold commercially are killed and frozen before cooking. Lobsters and other crustaceans do spoil rapidly after death, which is why many buyers insist on receiving them alive.
What happens when a live lobster is frozen?
Freezing slows deterioration and harmful chemical actions that follow death.
Are lobsters different colors?
"Red as a lobster" is just a tale. Lobsters come in just about every color but red. They can be blue, light yellow, greenish-brown, grey, dusty orange, some calico, and some with spots. However, they all turn red when they hit hot water. The hot water cuts the link between astaxanthin, a red substance contained in the lobster's shell, and protein which in cold water brings out the predominant coloring.
Can lobsters be raised commercially?
Not yet, but research is underway to develop rearing techniques and to assess the economic feasibility of rearing the American lobster commercially. Many scientists believe that commercial aquaculture can be achieved in the near future with a sufficient level of effort. Future projections for the culture of the spiny lobster are not, however, optimistic. Unlike the American lobster which has a relatively short larval life (several weeks), the spiny lobster has a larval life of about six or seven months. The technical difficulties presented by the fragile, demanding requirements of the early life stages make traditional hatchery methods impractical.
Can lobsters grow new legs?
Yes; this is called "reflex amputation." They can discard a limb, which can be lifesaving. Lobsters have the ability to regenerate some of their body parts; for example, the claws, walking legs, and antennae. The fact that lobsters are capable of limb loss and regeneration shows they have a very primitive nervous system and a different sensitivity to pain compared to humans or other types of animals. (They can "drop" a claw, etc. and go off like nothing happened. Could you drop an arm or leg like that?).
Do lobsters have teeth?
Lobster's teeth are in their stomach. The stomach is located a very short distance from the mouth, and the food is actually chewed in the stomach between three grinding surfaces that look like molar surfaces, called the "gastric mill."
Can lobsters smell their food?
Lobsters "smell" their food by using four small antennae on the front of their heads and tiny sensing hairs that cover their bodies. Their sense of smell is so fine that they can sniff out a single amino acid that tags their favorite food.
What is the largest lobster ever caught?
The Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association claimed a record when they caught "Big George" in 1974 off Cape Cod. The lobster weighed 37.4 pounds, with a total length of 2.1 feet.
Do lobsters chase crabs out of traps if they get there first?
If a lobster gets into a trap first, crabs would not enter the "parlor" or holding section. This is because if a crab starts up the entry to the parlor, the lobster will make aggressive displays which make the crab back down. Crabs do not keep other crabs out, nor lobsters, so if a crab got in first, lobsters would still come in. In general, crabs are less aggressive than lobsters.
Have Maine lobsters been successfully transplanted to the West Coast?
Attempts have been made to do so, but with limited success. In 1973 the Canadian government discontinued a six-year-old experiment to rear lobsters in the waters off British Columbia. The decision to drop the project was evidently dictated by economics.