Fascinating facts: Lobsters

April 18, 2021 3 min read

Fascinating facts: Lobsters

Lobsters - we love them

We all know they are blue underwater and go red when cooked.  We all know they're difficult to find underwater and we all know they have BIG claws.  But what else is there to know one of the UK divers favourite critters?

1. They keep growing forever.  Or so we think.  We don't actually know how big they get or how long they live in the wild.  The traps used to survey them aren’t designed to catch the larger lobsters.  Anything over 20 - 30 lbs get caught by mistake - because a claw got caught in the entrance of the trap, not because it managed to get inside, it can't! So up to a certain size and age, yup we know, beyond that - not so much!

2. They eat each other.  I've often wondered why we can't farm lobsters, and this is why!  They're cannibals! They look for nice fresh food and if that happens to come in the shape of another lobby... YUM! 

3. Lady lobsters get naked  The lady lobster, when ready to have baby lobbies needs a fella.  To tell the lads she's ready she gets naked by shedding her shell (they can't actually do 'it' any other way as the shell is protecting things!).  Shedding your shell is a bit dangerous if you're a lobster as it means you're vulnerable to attack (and being munched by a fellow lob as we've just learnt).

But the sight of a naked lady and the pheromones she releases distracts the boy lobster from eating her and... well the romance, such as it is can begin (apparently for the truly curious, it's the missionary position!). 

Six to nine months later, eggs appear on her tail, and after another six to 9 months, they hatch. A one-pound-and-a-half female lobster can have between 8,000 to 12,000 eggs, each about the size of a raspberry segment.  

4. They taste with their legs.  Chemosensory leg and feet hairs identify food. Small antennae in front of their eyes are used for tracking down food that’s farther away.  So when you see them flicking their antennae about they're 'looking' at you.

5. They chew with their stomachs.  The grinding structure for breaking up food is called the gastric mill, kind of like a set of teeth on their stomachs, which are right behind the eyes and the size of a walnut in a one-pound lobster.

6. The green in cooked lobsters is liver. Well technically, it’s the tomalley—a digestive gland that’s the intestine, liver, and pancreas. And any red things are eggs. 🤢

7. They don’t scream in pain when you cook them.  The noise you hear is air that has been trapped in the stomach and forced through the mouth after being out of water for short periods of time. Lobsters don’t have vocal chords, and they can’t process pain. It's still not nice to hear though!

8. One of their claws can exert pressure of up to 100 pounds per square inch.  So You may not be causing them any pain but they can cause you some!

The lobster’s larger claw, the crusher claw, is the one to be aware of,.  And frankly stay away from!  This claw looks like it has molars because it’s used to break up anything hard like crabs, clams, mussels. The other claw - called the ripper claw or the quick claw - tears softer food like fish or worms. I think I'll just respect bot!

9. They can regenerate limbs.  It'll take a good five years probably for a smallish 1 lb lobby to grow a new claw that’s about the same size of one that was lost.  But they can do it.

10. Their shells were once used to make golf balls.  Shells left over after lobster processing are usually tossed into landfills. So in an effort to make them worth something and keep the money in the lobster industry, a University of Maine professor created golf balls with a core made out of lobster shells. They’re also biodegradable, designed for golfing on cruise ships or courses near oceans and lakes.

11. Once upon a time, they were the go-to prison food.   Back in the day only the poor, servants, and prisoners ate lobsters because they were cheap, too plentiful, and considered tasteless.  


So there you are.  A few things you may - or may not - have known about one of our best loved creatures.

Dale Spree
Dale Spree

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