Everyone loves lobster. A little butter, a little candlelight, yum! But, have you ever wondered about the secret life of this tasty crustacean? Here are 100 fun facts you probably never knew about the lowly lobster.
Lobsters were once considered the poor man’s chicken. In Colonial times, it was fed to pigs and goats and only eaten by paupers.
Lobsters aren’t red. They turn red when cooked, but in nature they can be green or yellow or even bright blue.
Lobster fishermen throw back lobsters that are too small and lobsters that are too big. The small ones need to grow, while the large ones add vigor to the gene pool.
In Maine, a lobster’s body must be at least 3 1/4 inches to keep, and can’t be over 5 inches.
When lobsters mate, the eggs aren’t fertilized right away. The female carries the male’s sperm and chooses when to fertilize her eggs.
Lobsters shed their shells, or molt.
A female lobster can only mate just after she has molted.
Lobsters can swim forward and backward. When they’re alarmed, they scoot away in reverse by rapidly curling and uncurling their tails.
Because its nervous system is similar to that of grasshoppers and ants, lobsters are sometimes called “bugs.”
When food is scarce, lobsters can turn cannibal and dine on smaller lobsters.
Lobsters reproduce by laying lobster eggs. The eggs are carried by the female until they’re ready to hatch.
Lobster eggs are called roe, just like fish eggs.
Former President and First Lady George and Barbara Bush loved to eat lobster served up fresh at Mable’s restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Slaves sometimes dined like kings, often eating lobster because it was plentiful and cheap.
Maine lobsters are clawed lobsters, and have large, meaty claws.
Spiny Caribbean lobsters have no claws and are sold mainly for their tails.
Besides American lobsters, people also enjoy European lobsters, Spiny lobsters, scampi, and crayfish.
Lobsters are usually caught in an underwater trap called a “lobster pot,” baited with dead fish.
Lobsters usually feed on bottom dwellers like clams, snails, and crabs.
Lobsters live in the murk and mud at the bottom of the ocean.
Lobsters can grow up to four feet long and weigh as much as 40 pounds.
It is believed that lobsters can live as long as 100 years.
Lobsters have a crusher claw and a pincer claw; some lobsters have the crusher claw on the right side and others have it on the left.
Native Americans ate lobsters after wrapping them in seaweed and baking them over hot rocks.
Native Americans also used lobster as bait and to fertilize their crops.
Lobster meat is a great source of protein, providing 28 grams of protein per cup.
Lobsters are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
If you hold the butter, lobsters aren’t fattening. Three and a half ounces only have 96 calories and about two grams of fat.
Lobsters are considered marine crustaceans along with shrimp, krill, and barnacles.
The American lobster, found in the Atlantic Ocean, bears the scientific name Homarus americanus.
Lobsters were once so plentiful that after a storm they would wash ashore in deep piles.
Lobsters were originally gathered by hand. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that lobster trapping became popular.
Soft-shelled lobster is considered to have sweeter, more tender meat.
A soft-shelled lobster is one that has just molted and is in a growing phase.
Soft-shelled lobsters are called “shedders.”
Most soft-shelled lobsters are caught from July to October.
Hard-shelled lobsters have darker claws than the soft-shelled ones.
Since striped bass have no teeth, they swallow lobsters whole, but only the tiny ones.
Even full-grown lobsters can fall prey to codfish and the occasional octopus.
You can catch lobsters by hand, just be sure to wear heavy-duty gloves.
Lobsters have poor eyesight, but have highly developed senses of smell and taste.
It’s not illegal to hunt lobsters at night with a flashlight, but the limit you can take is seven.
Lobsters can be grown on farms.
Lobster blood is not red like ours; it’s clear.
When cooked, lobster blood turns into a whitish gel.
A lobster will, quite literally, drown in fresh water.
Lobsters have teeth in their stomachs.
The lobster’s voice is a crackly noise some people compare to violins.
It’s a myth that lobsters scream when you put them in hot water – they have no lungs and no vocal cords.
A one-pound lobster should be cooked for about 15 minutes.
Lobster steamed in beer is delicious. A pilsner or lager is the best choice.
Maine is famous for producing the most lobsters, and, some would claim, the best.
Most of the hundreds of regulations concerning lobster fishing apply to commercial fishermen.
In some states you need a saltwater fishing license to catch lobsters; in Hawaii, no license is required unless you want to sell your catch.
A residential license in Maryland allows you to use two lobster pots to trap lobsters.
New fishermen sometimes have to wait for someone else to retire before they can get their own commercial lobster license.
Some states allow commercial fisherman to use as many as 800 lobster pots.
The design of the lobster pot has not changed much in the last 200 years.
Each year nearly $300 million worth of lobster is harvested in the U.S.
Maine requires lobstermen to complete a two-year apprenticeship before they can captain their own boat.
Apprentice lobstermen can be on a waiting list for 10 years before they get their own license.
Lobstermen swear a lot! Nearly as much as truck drivers.
It is illegal to boil lobsters in some places, such as the village of Reggio Emilia in Italy.
Grilled lobster tails are a true delicacy.
There is meat in lobster legs. Bite down hard and you can suck it out.
Lobsters are the original pea brains. Their brains are no bigger than the tip of a ball-point pen!
The black line you see on the lobster’s tail is unfertilized eggs; you can eat them.
The tomalley is not the lobster’s liver, it’s part of the digestive tract.
The tomalley turns green when cooked; some people considered it a delicacy.
You can buy live lobsters for saltwater fish tanks from an aquarium supplier.
They’re not very friendly, but some people do keep lobsters as pets.
Larry the Lobster is the lifeguard on SpongeBob SquarePants.
A lobster’s claws are strong. A very large lobster could break your finger.
Lobsters use their three pairs of antennas as sensors.
Once you bait your lobster traps, you can check them the next morning.
It’s a felony to rob someone else’s lobster pots.
Lots of things get caught in lobster traps: cod, flounder, mackerel, even Coke cans.
White fish is a good bait for lobster pots.
Some lobstermen bait their pots with artificial bait cakes.
Lobster traps have biodegradable doors, insuring that an abandoned trap doesn’t turn into a lobster death sentence.
Lobsters are nocturnal, so it’s best to hunt them at night.
Clawed lobsters like to hide in rocky crevices.
Spiny lobsters can be found on rocky reefs.
Most Maine lobsters are caught between June and December.
There are around 6,000 licensed lobstermen in Maine.
Maine lobstermen have caught over 100 million pounds of lobster annually since 2011.
In Maine, lobster landings totaled 127,808,436 pounds in 2013, the highest amount since the Department of Marine Resources began keeping records. [Update: preliminary numbers indicate 2016’s catch to be a record-breaking 130,844,773 pounds!]
Lobstermen are very territorial because if someone else is hunting in their area, the traps can get tangled.
A crewman on a lobster boat makes about $50,000 a year.
Boat owners make a lot more than crewmen, but must invest a lot more as well.
A lobster fisherman needs to catch about 150 pounds of lobster a day just to cover the cost of bait and gas.
The lobsterman’s day usually starts at 4:30 am and can go until dark.
Some people consider lobster an aphrodisiac.
People were once ashamed to eat lobsters because it was considered a poor man’s food.
New England is one of the best places to hunt lobster because its rocky shores give them lots of places to hide.
Female lobsters carry their eggs with their swimmerets, which are abdominal appendages.
Depending on how warm the water is, lobsters will carry their eggs for up to a year.
Only .1 percent of a lobster’s eggs will live more than six weeks.
Lobstermen cut a notch in the tale of a female lobster to tell other fishermen she’s a good egg bearer.
Lobsters eat voraciously after molting, and will often consume their own recently emptied shells. Eating the old shell replenishes lost calcium and hastens the hardening of the new shell.