Hungry? Have a Lobster Feast
History of Lobsters
Lobsters are invertebrates, scientific name Nephropidae. Imagine finding the shores of the New World piled over two feet high of lobsters. The first European settlers found just such a sight. Native Indians used the lobsters for fertilizer for their crops and bait for their fishing. The lobsters, along with other crustaceans, were wrapped in seaweed and baked over hot coals. Today, the term called clam bakes can be attributed to them.
Ancestors of the modern lobster had six claws, four eyes, and crawled on the seafloor some 500 million years ago, and they have not changed a lot in the last 100 million years.
During colonial times, lobsters were so plentiful they were fed to indentured slaves, servants, and prisoners. It is believed that contracts were signed saying no more than three times a week could they be served lobster.
Anatomy of the Lobster
- Brains are in the throat
- The nervous system is in the abdomen
- Teeth are in the stomach
- Kidneys are in the head
- It hears with its legs
- It tastes with its feet
- It has eight walking legs
- Larry, the Lobster, 15 lbs, estimated to be 105 years old, released
- Big Dipper Lobster, 20 lbs, Newfoundland, estimated 140 years old, released
- Louie the Lobster, 22 lbs, NY, 132 years old, released after 20 years in a tank
- Rocky the Lobster, 27 lbs, Maine, released
Species and Life of Lobsters
The three most populous lobster species are the American Lobster, Norway Lobster, and Caribbean Spiny Lobster. Every lobster needs to 'molt' as they grow, and this could be 5-6 times during just their first season. Each time they molt, a 20% growth is usual. It takes about 15 minutes for the process, and they do this by backing out of their shell. Because it takes a few weeks to grow and harden the new shell, they seek to hide either under rocks or by burying in the sand.
The largest lobster ever caught was off Nova Scotia in 1917, weighing 44 pounds. Lobsters can live over 100 years, and they can reach four feet in length.
The rarest of all lobsters are the white or albino lobster, and it is so unique that only one in 100 million is ever found. In 2018, Maine fisherman, Mike Billings, caught a 'ghost' or albino lobster off Stonington, Maine. Fortunately for the lobster, it was too small and had to be released. The condition is a genic condition called leucism, meaning no pigment in their system.
During the depression, lobsters were again the 'poor man's diet.' Still, during WW II, lobster, because it was not rationed, became a delicacy and especially in the more elegant restaurants of New York and Boston. Soon, prices soared, and millions were to be made by lobster fishermen.
Commercial Value of Lobster Fishing
In 2019, over 100 million pounds of lobster were harvested with a value of $485. million dollars.
A commercial license to fish for lobsters is complicated and costly. There is also a very long waiting list, over 240 waiting to procure a license. Some on the list have waited over ten years. There are regulations and rules required to secure a permit, and they are strictly enforced involving a fisherman's buoys, including the colors on the buoys.
Interesting Facts About Lobsters
- Largest lobster ever caught was 44 pounder off Nova Scotia in 1917
- A lobster can reach four feet in length
- A lobster can live over 100 years
- Oldest lobster ever caught was 140 years
- A lobster can only live 30 hours out of water
Today, National Lobster Day is celebrated twice a year, on June 15th and September 25th.
From the 'poor man's food' to a costly delicacy today, that would cost about $40. to $75 for a 1-1/5 pound lobster served in a fine restaurant.