You might think that you’re a lobster aficionado, but there are a lot of things about this delicacy that you may not know. These creatures are so much more than a fancy, candle lit dinner. Lobsters also have the incredible ability to live what seems like forever. And believe it or not, lobsters were once thought of as the poor man’s chicken. In Colonial times, it was fed to farm animals and only eaten by paupers (poor people). The clawed lobster is listed as Least Concern and the spiny lobster is listed as Vulnerable, by the IUCN. From the clawed lobster to the spiny lobster, there are a ton of facts about these interesting critters of the sea, so sit back and get your learning on…
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Nephropidae
Weight: Up to 44+ lbs
Length: Up to 33+ inches plus outstretched claws
Lifespan: Unknown but typically up to 50+ years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) Even though they are at risk of death by predation or disease, lobsters can theoretically live forever. This is due to the fact that aging doesn’t increase their chance of dying. They have an enzyme, known as telomerase, that prevents their DNA from being damaged as the cells are being replicated.
2.) Wild lobsters come in a variety of colors, like green, grey, yellow, blue, calico, multi-colored, & even albino. That iconic red coloration is caused by steaming them. Red lobsters do occur in nature but about 1 in every 10 million lobsters.
3.) Lobsters eat a huge amount of food just after molting, and will even eat their own recently emptied shells. Eating the old shell replaces lost calcium and speeds up the hardening of their new exoskeleton.
4.) The American or Maine lobster (aka clawed lobster) lives in the Atlantic Ocean and has large, bulky claws. Spiny lobsters, like the California spiny, have large, “spiny” antennae, but do not possess large claws.
5.) Lobsters feed on clams, starfish, crabs, and other sea life.
But wait, there’s more on the lobster!
6.) The blood of a lobster is clear. When you next crack open a lobster, at the dinner table, and you see the “juices”… that’s their blood.
7.) They use small chemosensory hairs on their legs and feet to smell their food. This comes in handy when looking for small critters or food that is dissolved in the water. Lobsters also use the antennae for locating food at a distance. Their sense of smell is so acute that they can find a single amino acid just by “sniffing” it out.
Did you know…?
Lobster fishermen will throw back lobsters that are too small or too big. The small ones need to grow and the large ones help add to the genetic pool, increasing the chance that more large lobsters will be produced.
8.) Lobsters can swim forward as well as backward. When they have to make a hasty getaway they will curl and uncurl their tail rapidly to burst away, backwards, from the scene.
10.) When food is scarce they have no problem going cannibal. Hannibal Lecter would be proud.
But wait, there’s still more on the lobster!
11.) A device called a “pot” is used to capture lobsters. The trap is baited with dead fish.
12.) Their teeth are not where you would think. They are located in their stomach! Food is digested via their ‘gastric mill’ by what looks similar to 3 molars.
13.) Native Americans would eat lobsters after wrapping them in seaweed and cooking them over hot rocks.
Did you know…?
These creatures lack a cerebral cortex. This is the part of the brain that controls the ability to feel pain. Therefore, it is speculated that lobsters lack the ability to feel pain. That screaming sound they make when they’re dropped into boiling water is actually steam escaping from their shells.
14.) Lobster meat contains up to 28 grams of protein per cup and it is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Their meat also weighs in at 96 calories and 2 grams of fat!
15.) Most lobsters die from humans, predation, and disease. However, it is possible for a lobster to die from old age. This usually happens when an older lobster is incapable of molting and literally rots inside of its shell. That sounds pleasant, right?
But wait, there’s still even more on the lobster!
16.) Trapping of these incredible creatures became popular in the mid 19th century. Up until that point, they were caught by hand.
17.) When they molt they are called soft shelled lobsters. During this time their meat is sweeter.
18.) Some states actually allow commercial fisherman to use up to 800 lobster pots! Overfishing much?
19.) The U.S. brings in around $300 million in lobster each year!
20.) Regeneration comes naturally to these critters. They are able to regenerate lost legs, claws, and antennae.
But wait, there’s just a little more on the lobster!
21.) Maine requires lobstermen to go through a 2 year apprenticeship before they can captain their own vessel. Apprentice lobstermen can often be on a waiting list for 10 years before they get their own license!
22.) Their crusher claw is strong enough, on a large lobster, to break your finger!
Did you know…?
A lobster fisherman has to yield around 150 lbs. of these tasty creatures a day just to cover the cost of gas and bait.
23.) Females only mate once they have freshly molted. Once they mate the female will carry the male’s sperm until she decides the conditions are right to fertilize her eggs. The female will carry the eggs for 9 – 12 months inside her and then a further 9 – 12 months externally, till they hatch. Only .1% of her eggs will live more than 6 weeks after birth.
24.) Around 100 million pounds of lobster are caught annually (since 2011).
25.) They like the night life. They like to boogie. Lobsters are nocturnal (active at night).