The Life of the Mother Lobster

The Life of the Mother Lobster
Lobster-Photo-by-Meredith
male & female lobster difference

When most people see a lobster, they don’t know if it is a male or female unless they’re lobster experts or simply familiar with how to distinguish between the two. There are a few noticeable differences from a female Lobster to a male lobster.

A female lobsters tail is larger than a males because the female must carry all of the eggs, which believe it or not, can sometimes be up-to 100,000 eggs if the female lobster is around 8-10lbs! On average a female lobster carries roughly 7,500-10,000 eggs. Another way to distinguish between the two is look under the tail where the feeders are located. A females feeders are soft and crossed where a males feeders are hard and touched together facing forward.

When a female lobster is born, it takes about a full year for the lobster to grow into its “adult” size. Once a female lobster has reached its adult size, it begins the process of finding a mate. Finding a male lobster to mate with is very different than how your mom may have met your dad or vice versa. Although, that would be a very interesting connection between humans and lobsters if that was the case.

Lobster Shedding Shell
Shell Shedding Process

A female lobster can only become pregnant during certain times of her life. These times are when she has shed her old shell & is beginning the process of growing into her new firm shell. When this time comes, the sequence of finding a male is quite interesting.  We all know it is the male that chases a women when you think of how humans typically meet each other. As mentioned above, this is not the case with lobsters, although male lobsters do fight over the female, which we all know, tends to happen sometimes with humans as well. With that said, females are the players, the females are the seekers, although they do not call the shots to which male they want/get to mate with.

A female lobster, in its fertile state, will release a pheromone into the water which will attract male lobsters. Once the males have caught onto the scent they will begin venturing to the female. As male lobsters come across each other’s paths they will begin to fight, locking their claws together basically attempting to crush the other lobsters claw until the alfa male triumphs over the weaker male lobsters. This is what some may think is a group of lobsters at the bottom of the ocean, a travelling pack of lobsters in a formal line 1 after the other migrating to a new location or something but what is really going on is the male lobsters are all locked together basically trying to kill one another to get to the fertile female lobster’s location. This chain of fighting lobsters can last multiple days at times but eventually one male lobster will over power the rest and THAT is the lobster the female will mate with along with any other fertile females to come. When I say more females, I do mean it. The alfa male distinguishes himself as the best fit lobster to mate with leaving all others left to simply continue to grow until they, someday may be able to be the alfa male themselves, potentially in a different area of water. One could say, male lobsters are very “shellfish”  when it comes to female lobsters!

Once the female has found its mate, they begin to the process of reproduction. Once this has been completed the male & female lobster will seek a safe place where the male will stand guard and protect the female for roughly 10-14 days until the female lobsters’ shell has become safe enough for her to go out on her own. Once this day comes, the female lobster simply leaves and carries on with her life while a new female lobster comes in to mate with the alfa male.

The female, soon to be mother lobster will not begin to see any eggs under her tail for up-to 9-12 months. Once the eggs begin to show, they look like a bunch of small little berries under the female lobsters’ tail. A female lobster can lose up to 50% off her eggs during the incubation period due to disease, parasites, predation, or by fishermen repeatedly catching, handling and releasing them because pregnant lobsters are completely illegal to catch and sell. When a pregnant lobster with eggs is caught by a fishermen it is a state law to “V” notch the lobster(s) and return them into the ocean to help support sustainability and survival of the lobster species. A nick name for a female lobster with eggs is a “V” notched lobster. Catching and selling a “V” notched lobster with or without eggs is punishable with large fines if harvested and sold in the state of Maine.

Pregnant Female Lobster
Pregnant “V” notch female lobster

The female lobster will carry these babies for approximately 15 months before she releases them. It can take up to 15 months simply due to the mother lobster trying to find a safe place to release her babies (which to be honest, there is not really a safe place for a female lobster to release her eggs). I say there really isn’t a safe place to release the eggs because, once the eggs are released, they’re too light to stay on the bottom of the ocean, naturally they all float to the top. At this point, every day, every week counts. This is a crucial time for the newly born lobsters. With them gradually sinking to the bottom of the ocean as their weight increases, any fish can simply end their life that is swimming through. This is why the mother lobster can take such a long time finding the “safest” location to release her eggs. The longer the baby lobsters stay alive, avoiding fish and any other predators the deeper they sink to the bottom, increasing their chance of survival, and carrying on a long protected life at the bottom of the ocean. On average, due to the lobster breeding process, roughly only 10% off each female lobsters’ eggs make it out alive and can successfully grow at the bottom of the ocean where they can find suitable protection in rocky ocean areas.

Here is an incredible video of a female lobster finding warm waters, to begin releasing her lobster eggs. Lobster video:

I hope this blog helped you better understand the life of a Female, Mother lobster. Thank you for reading!