About Lobster

Common Questions and Facts about Lobsters.

1. Are Atlantic lobsters the same as rock lobsters?

The lobster fished off eastern Canada and the northeastern United States is the American lobster. The rock lobster is a spiny lobster, which has no large claws and is found off the coast of Europe and in more southern waters.

2. How can you tell the difference between male and female lobster?

Female lobster generally are wider in the upper dorsal tail region (allows room in the tail to store the premature eggs.) Females can also he distinguished by their soft, thin set of first pleopods (swimmerets). Males have a hard, thicker set of first pleopods and have smaller hard appendages attached to their second set of pleopods.

3. What do lobsters eat?

Contrary to popular belief, lobsters are not scavengers. They eat fish, alive or dead and animals that live in the bottom of the ocean, such as clams, snails, starfish and crabs. Lobsters are also cannibals, feeding on smaller weaker lobsters. The teeth of a lobster are in its stomach. The stomach is located a short distance from the mouth and the food is actually chewed in the stomach between three grinding surfaces that look like molar teeth, called the "gastric mill". 

4. What happens when lobsters shed?

In the summer when the waters have warmed, lobsters shed the shells that they have outgrown, exposing a new, larger shell underneath. The new shell is very soft, and takes time to harden. This is helped by eating the old shell to recover lost minerals. Although most lobsters shed every year, young fast-growing lobsters may shed more than once a year; while large old lobsters shed every few years.

5. What's the largest lobster ever caught?

The largest (recorded) lobster caught was 42.4 LBS had a carapace of 14.9 Inches and a total body length of 24.1 Inches. It was caught in 1934 and was probably at least 100 years old!

6. How old are lobsters at different sizes?

A canner may be only 5 or 6 years old, a 1 pound lobster would be about 7-8 years old, and a jumbo (over 8 pounds) may be 20 - 50 years old. A lobster's age is approximately his weight multiplied by 4, plus 3 years.

7. How long does the female carry her eggs?

A lobster egg is the size of the head of a pin. A 1LB female lobster usually has between 8,000 to 12,000 eggs that are attached to the underside of her tail with a special glue-like substance. She carries the eggs for about a year, depending on the temperature of the water, until they are released as larvae (about the size of a mosquito).

8. What causes different colors in lobsters?

Blue lobsters are caused by a genetic defect. Rather than containing the pigments, which combine to make a green-brown color, the shell contains only a blue pigment. Genetic defects also cause other strange coloring such as light orange, and patterns such as yellow spots.

9. How well can lobsters see?

Lobsters seem to be able to see images and detect movement, and may actually have color vision. Due to the darkness at the depths where they live, lobsters rely more on chemoreception and touch than vision. Chemoreception involves detecting chemicals in the water such as odors and food. The sense of touch involves hair-like projections over the surface of the lobster, which help to detect changes in water current, and therefore movements around them.

10. Do lobsters have blood?

Yes, a clear or white blood with a slight bluish tint is pumped through the body of the lobster by the heart. The blue tint is caused by copper, which is used as the oxygen carrier in the blood. Human's red colored blood is due to iron being the oxygen carrier. When claws, legs or antennas of lobster are ripped off, or the shell is cracked or punctured, the lobster can be weakened and even die from loss of blood.

11. How do lobsters survive out of water?

Lobsters have specialized gills that allow them to extract oxygen from air as well as in water. A thin film of water coating the gill surface is necessary for oxygen to be extracted by the gills from the air. Lobsters can survive out of the water for a number of days, but must be kept cool and damp.

12. What is this clump of little red balls in my lobster's tail?

You have in your hands a female lobster that has immature eggs that haven't been released yet. It is called coral, and many people feel it is a delicacy and call it lobster caviar. If you are splitting a live lobster for stuffing, or if your lobster is undercooked, the coral will appear black.

13. Do lobsters feel pain when immersed in boiling water?

Pain is a human concept. Human beings and other vertebrates possessing an advanced nervous system, feel pain. Lobsters are invertebrates, with a very primitive nervous system similar to that of a grasshopper. A lobster's nervous system is lower on the evolutionary scale than that of fish, and is designed to respond to very basic stimuli contained within their habitat. Scientific research conducted at the Maine department of marine resources shows that lobsters, like most other marine invertebrates, do not tolerate heat and can die at temperatures of 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees C), which feels lukewarm to human touch. Contrary to some reports, they also lack vocal chords. The sound that a lobster makes when it hits the steam isn't a 'scream' but simply air escaping from the lobster's body cavity as it expands from the heat.

14. Why do lobsters twitch after being immersed in boiling water?

Lobsters die almost immediately upon contact with boiling water. However; the tail may twitch for approximately one minute after being immersed. According to scientific research, this is part of an involuntary muscle response. Known as the escape response, it is a reflex action to any sudden stimuli. Sometimes, lobsters emit a clicking sound, similar to that made by grasshoppers and crickets. In fact, lobsters make this sound in the same way that crickets do.

15. Is hard shell or soft shell better?

Hard shell lobsters are much meatier than soft-shell lobsters. To determine whether a lobster is hard-shell or soft-shell, squeeze the side of the lobsters body; a soft-shell lobster will yield to pressure while a hard-shell will be hard, brittle, and tightly packed.

16. Can lobsters smell?

Lobsters 'smell' their food by using four small antennae on the front of their heads and tiny sensing hairs that cover their bodies.

17. How long can lobster survive when kept in storage without food?

Canadian fishing seasons ensure that Nova Scotia lobsters are caught only when the shells are hard and the lobsters are full of meat. These lobsters are in prime condition, and could go without food for up to a year at low temperatures without any change in meat quality or content. A hard shelled, full meated lobster has energy reserves contained in the digestive gland or tomalley. A lobster would use these reserves when they are in storage. Lobsters are naturally adapted to going without food for long periods of time. During the winter, when water temperatures are cold and below 38 degrees F (4 degrees C) lobsters go into a state similar to hibernation and stop feeding. They move about very little, preferring to remain in their rocky or sandy burrows.

18. What is the best way to cook lobsters?

Whether prepared at home or in a restaurant, lobsters have traditionally been cooked by immersing them in a pot of salted water, which has been heated to a rolling boil. Lobsters die within seconds upon being immersed in boiling water. This cooking method also offers the advantage of retaining the delicate texture and flavor of the product, important consideration given to the fact that lobsters are a high-priced consumer product. Crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs, are generally sold live and cooked live to ensure top quality and product safety.

19. Why do lobsters turn red when cooked?

Lobsters are naturally red in color, which is caused by a pigment, similar to that, which is found in carrots. When the lobster is laying down its shell, the pigment combines with protein, temporarily changing the pigment. Instead of reflecting red, which would be the normal color of the lobster pigment, the shell can display a variety of colors. Usually, the altered carotenoid shows up as a greenish-blue color. Cooking breaks down the protein, releasing the carotenoid pigment. The lobster then turns its natural color, which is red. The change in color usually occurs rapidly since the protein begins to break down as soon as the lobster is immersed in boiling water.

20. How to eat lobster?


21. Hard or Soft shell?


22. What is the best lobster to eat?

Lobster is one of the few meal choices that invites you to choose your own victim. While there are some restaurants in the Midwest where you can pick out your own steak, it's not like seeing the whole cow. With lobsters, you do see the whole thing. This leaves the diner with several tough decisions:

Should you have a soft-shell or a hard-shell lobster?
Will a large lobster be as tender as a small lobster?
Should you choose a male or a female?
Should you choose a green lobster or a red one?

According to David Dow, former Director of the Lobster Institute in Orono, Maine, and a lobsterman himself, "Most people in the industry prefer the new shell: the 'shedders.' Their meat is sweet, and their shells are easy to break apart." However, others claim hard-shelled lobsters are better because their meat is firmer and there is more of it than in a newly molted lobster. Of course, you have to expect that the shell will not be crammed full of lobster meat in a 'shedder.' Lobster dealers sometimes refer to soft-shell lobsters as "low quality". It's not that they don't taste as good, but rather that in their weakened post-molt condition, these lobsters do not transport well.

Dow also claims that large lobsters taste as good as small ones "until you get to 5 to 7 pounds, then the meat gets kind of stringy." Advocates of tail meat recommend getting a female whose tail is broader than a male's of equal size since she uses the space to carry her eggs. The best time to buy lobsters is in the fall, after Labor Day, when all the tourists have gone home and the lobster landings are at their highest. Because lobster meat can go bad quickly, it's generally necessary to cook lobster while it's still alive. That means you pick a green lobster, but do not eat it until its shell turns red! Never eat a cooked lobster with its tail uncurled, as it has died before it was cooked.


Prior to the turn of the Century (1900), lobsters were used primarily for fertilizer 
and thought unfit for human consumption.

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