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Maine Lobster Facts

The American lobster also known by its scientific name Homarus americanus are invertebrates therefore they are members to the Class Crustacea and the Phylum Arthopoda. More commonly these fascinating creatures are called crustaceans and sometimes referred to as “Bugs” in Maine because of how similar their nervous system is to insects.

Lobster Anatomy

The lobster’s anatomy is a complex one, each lobster’s body has nineteen parts that are covered by a section of its hard shell. Since lobsters are crustaceans their hard-outer shell is their exoskeleton meaning that they have no inner skeleton or bones! The Lobsters phylum Arthropoda also clues us into how the anatomy appears. The Latin word “arthro” means jointed and the Greek word “poda” means foot. Lobster have jointed appendages hence as their phylum suggest they are jointed foot animals since they are also decapods, we know that they have ten legs (five pairs).

A lobster’s nervous system is like an insect and compared to that of a humane its very primitive. Invertebrates have one hundred thousand neurons while humans have will over 100 billion neurons. Unlike us humans a lobster’s blood is not red it a grayish/clear color, its circulated throughout the body by the heart and few large blood vessels. A lobster heart is located just behind its stomach. A lobster breathes through gills found in its thorax section, the gills pick up oxygen from the water. leave. Such as, water temperatures rising or excessive amounts of predators invading their habitats.

Lobster Anatomy

Lobster Body

A lobster’s body can be broken down into two main parts the cephalothorax and the abdomen which is commonly called the tail. The cephalothorax is made up of the lobster’s head which is called cephalon and the mid-section called the thorax. There are 14 fused together segments that make up the cephalothorax and they are called somites and each one has a pair of appendages located on either side of the body or on the underside of the body.
The segments of the cephalothorax.
  • In the first segment is where you will find the lobster’s eyes. Lobster have compounded eyes.
  • The second segment is where the antennules are, these are carried on a three-segmented foot that has chemosensory organs. The antennules can help the lobster find food, a mate or detect danger
  • The third segment is where the antennae are, they consist of five segmented peduncle. They are tactile organs.
  • The last three segments of the cephalic (4-6) and the first three of the thoracic segments (7-9) make up the lobster mouth.
  • The remaining segments (10-14) have five pairs of walking legs also called pereipods.

A lobster’s claws are called chelipod, a lobster has two claws the crusher claw and the pincher claw. The larger of the claws with the rounded surface is the crusher claw. While the smaller of the claws the pincher claw is more pointed and sharp, this claw is used for tearing apart food. The crusher claw true to its name is used to crush prey such as shellfish.

Life Cycle of a Lobster

Eggs:

Freshly laid lobster eggs are tiny! They are roughly the size of the head of a pin! Female lobsters primarily mate when they are in a soft-shell state, right after they have molted (shed their shell). The female carries the legs inside for 9-12 months and then externally attached to the swimmerets under the tail for an additional 9-12 months. When the eggs hatch the mother, lobster will release them by fanning her swimmerets.

Larval Stage:

During the first larval state the newborn lobster will float near the surface for about 4-6 weeks. During this state they are very susceptible to prey and will go through three molts before moving on to the post-larval stage.

Post-Larval Stage:

After their fourth molt the lucky few that have survived will start to settle to the bottom and begin to look for hiding place in rocks, and grassy areas to continue to develop. Typically, from every 50,000 eggs about 2 lobsters are expected to make it to legal size.

Juvenile Lobsters:

As lobster continue to grow they start to become more adventurous and hide less. It will take about 5-7 years for a lobster to become large enough for legal harvest size. A lobster at the minimum size will weigh one pound. Due to this a juvenile lobster can molt up to 25 times before reaching adulthood.

Adult Lobsters:

Lobster will reach adulthood after about 5-8 years. As adults they will continue to grow by molting or shedding their shells. The molting process involves them coming out of their old shells while simultaneously absorbing water to expand their body size. After a lobster has molted they tend to consume more food and will often eat the shells they have just shed to replenish calcium. Molting can occurs up to 25 times during lobster first 5-7 years, after they weighs a pound they may only molt once a year (males) or once every two years (females). With each molt a lobster will increase about 15% in length and 40% in weight.

Habitat

The American lobster habitat is on the east coast of North America, from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Smaller lobsters, naturally need to hide from predators resulting in these sized lobsters living in sea weed filled and rocky areas that provide adequate shelter from predators. Larger lobsters, ranging in weights of 1.5lbs to 3.5lbs typically dominate the coastal habitats and offshore areas. Lobster have minimal migratory behavior, but studies have shown that larger adult lobster may inhabit deeper waters but return to shallow warmer waters seasonally.


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