The American Lobster, also known as “Homarus Americanus”, are members of the Crustacean Class and the Phylum Arthropoda. Crustacean comes from the Latin word meaning hard shell. The word Anthropoda comes from the Latin Word “anthro”, which means joined and the Greek word “poda”, which means foot. A lobster has jointed appendages which is where the scientific name Phylum Anthropoda comes from. In Maine, we even call them “Bugs” because of how similar their nervous system is to insects.
Lobsters do not have brains and while humans have over 100 billion neurons, lobsters only have 100,000 neurons. Lobsters blood is typically a greyish/clear color; the blood is circulated by the heart which is located just behind the stomach of the lobster. The blood is carried through blood vessels which pick up oxygen from the water coming into the lobsters’ body through its gills. When cooked, the blood becomes white and “sweats” out of the lobster meat. It is seen to be the white substance that is found along the inside of the shell when it is cracked open.
A Maine Lobsters’ body consists of 14 segments, which are all covered by a section of its shell. You’ll notice that the shell of the lobster is a bit thinner where the joints of the lobster are for the animal to move about freely. Lobsters can breathe under water through their gills that are located on each side of its’ thorax which is in the center of the body. They have one pair of antennae on their heads and two compounded eyes which are constantly moving in search of food and enemies. Lobsters are practically blind, they cannot see specific images, but they can detect motion in dim light.
We get very many comments on lobsters and their sensation of pain but for a fact, a lobster has no cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex in a human is what gives us the perception of pain. With that said, a lobster’s nervous system is not sophisticated enough to sense pain as we know it!
Lobsters have two claws, the crusher claw and the pincher claw. These claws are not always located on the same side of their bodies. Depending upon which side is their dominant side, that is the side that the crusher claw will be on. If a lobster loses a claw or an eye they can usually grow back another one, although if they grow a new claw the new one is typically smaller.
Most of the meat consumed from a Maine Lobster consists of claw meat and tail meat; some lobster eaters may even break into the body of the lobster to eat the meat found in the ribs and the meat found in the legs of the lobsters.
Life Cycle of a Lobster
A 9-pound female may carry more than 100,000 eggs. The eggs are carried inside of the female lobsters for 9 to 12 months and then for another 9 to 12 months the eggs are carried externally attached to the swimmerets under the lobsters’ tail.
In the first larval stage, they will float near the surface for 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, they go through three molts or stages but are very susceptible to prey. In this stage they are about 8 millimeters and completely transparent. You can see all its internal organs through its shell at this stage!
In the second larval stage, they are doubled in size. They grow functional claws and their first three legs, obtain more sensory hairs but are still just as transparent as they are during their first larval stage.
In the third larval stage, the pleopods are nearly fully formed, but not functional. The mandibles are thicker and bear more prominent teeth and they have even more sensory hairs than in the second larval stage. In this stage, their bodies are still transparent, but they are less sensitive to light, so they are mostly found in upper waters.
Depending on water temperatures, the larvae can take anywhere from 11 to 50 days to molt through the three larval stages and into the post larval stage. This post larval stage typically occurs between the months of June through August. At this point they are becoming to look more so like the lobsters we all know and love. They are obtaining the coloring of a full-grown lobster. In this stage the legs of the lobsters are gaining strength and they can swim against currents. In the beginning of this stage, the post larvae are strongly light seeking, but as they molt into the fifth stage light becomes repellent, and they begin to head down to the ocean floor. Post larvae are known to make multiple trips down to the ocean floor to make sure that the area is sustainable for life. If it isn’t they will float back to the surface and drift to another area and repeat this process.
It takes lobsters 5-7 years to grow into a size that is legal to harvest. To harvest a lobster, they must weigh at least 1 pound and their carapace must be at least 3 ¼ inches. They have plenty of time to be adventurous and they sure are! Juvenile lobsters can molt as many as 25 times before reaching adulthood.
Maine Lobsters reach adulthood after about 5-8 years. Once they reach adulthood, male lobsters will molt once a year and female lobsters will molt once every two years. Molting is when lobsters shed their old shells while absorbing water to expand their bodies and grow a new shell. After a lobster molts, they consume even more food than usual to provide more calcium to their bodies to produce a new strong shell.
All Maine Lobsters live on the ocean floor. Smaller lobsters live in sea weed filled, rocky areas that provide them shelter from predators. Larger lobsters dominate the coastal habitats and offshore areas. Lobsters have minimal migratory behavior, but studies have shown that larger lobsters will inhabit deeper waters but return to shallow, warmer waters seasonally.