9 Facts About Lobsters

Not Just a Delicacy

When you think of lobster, do you think of a bright red crustacean on your dinner plate, or a territorial creature roaming caves in the ocean? Despite their fame as a delicacy, lobsters have fascinating lives. Learn more about this iconic marine creature here.

01
of 09

Lobsters Are Invertebrates

Maine Lobster
Maine Lobster. Jeff Rotman/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Lobsters are marine invertebrates, the group of animals without a notochord. Like many invertebrates, lobsters protect themselves with their hard exoskeleton. This exoskeleton provides structure to the lobster's body.

02
of 09

Not All Lobsters Have Claws

Spiny Lobster / Borut Furlan / WaterFrame / Getty Images
Caribbean Spiny Lobster, Cuba. Borut Furlan / WaterFrame / Getty Images

There are two kinds of lobsters. These are commonly referred to as clawed lobsters and spiny" lobsters, or rock lobsters. Clawed lobsters include the American lobster, a popular seafood, especially in New England. Clawed lobsters are generally found in cold waters.

Spiny lobsters do not have claws. They do have long, strong antennae. These lobsters are generally found in warm water. As seafood, they are most often served as a lobster tail.

03
of 09

Lobsters Prefer Live Food

Lobster among rocks
Lobster among rocks. Oscar Robertsson/EyeEm/Getty Images

Although they have a reputation for being scavengers and even cannibals, studies of wild lobsters show that they prefer live prey. These bottom-dwellers feast on fish, mollusks, worms, and crustaceans. Although lobsters may eat other lobsters in captivity, this has not been observed in the wild.

04
of 09

Lobsters Can Live a Long Time

Close up of red lobster on beach
Fernando Huitron/EyeEm/Getty Images

It takes an American lobster 6-7 years to get to an edible size, but that is just the beginning. Lobsters are long-lived animals, with estimated lifespans of over 100 years.

05
of 09

Lobsters Need to Molt to Grow

Lobster close-up
Lobster close-up. Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

A lobster's shell can't grow, so as the lobster gets bigger and older, it molts and forms a new shell. Molting occurs about once a year in an adult lobster. This is a vulnerable time in which the lobster retreats to a hiding spot and withdraws out of its shell. After molting the lobster's body is very soft and it can take a few months for its shell to harden again. When fish markets advertise soft-shell lobsters, these are lobsters that have recently molted.

06
of 09

Lobsters Can Grow to Over 3 Feet

World's Largest Lobster, New Brunswick / Walter Bibikow / Photolibrary / Getty Images
World's Largest Lobster, Shediac, New Brunswick. Walter Bibikow / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Ok, they're not as long as the 35-foot "World's Largest Lobster" in Shediac, New Brunswick, but real lobsters can get pretty big. The largest American lobster, which was caught off Nova Scotia, weighed 44 pounds, 6 ounces and was 3 feet, 6 inches long.  Not all lobsters are this big, though. The slipper lobster, a type of clawless lobster, may be only a few inches long.

07
of 09

Lobsters Are Bottom-Dwellers

Spiny Lobster / Nature/UIG / Universal Images Group / Getty Images
Caribbean Spiny Lobster, Leeward Dutch Antilles, Curacao,. Nature/UIG / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Take one look at a lobster and it's obvious that they can't swim too far. Lobsters do begin their lives at the surface of the water, as they go through a planktonic stage. As the tiny lobsters grow, they eventually settle to the ocean bottom, where they prefer to hide in rocky caves and crevices.

Fishermen and 15 lb lobster
Jeff Rotman/Oxford Scientific/Getty Images

How do you tell the difference between a male and female lobster? Look under its tail. On the underside of its tail, a lobster has swimmerets, which the lobster uses for swimming and during mating.

Males have a modified pair of swimmerets, which are slender and hard. A female's swimmerets are all flat and feathery.  More »

American lobster
American Lobster, Gloucester, MA. Jeff Rotman/The Image Bank/Getty Images

When you think of a lobster, you might think of a bright red creature. Most lobsters are a brown to olive-green color in the wild, with only a reddish tinge.

The reddish tinge in a lobster's shell comes from a carotenoid pigment called astaxanthin. In most lobsters, this reddish color mixes with other colors to form the lobster's normal coloration. Astaxanthin is stable in heat, while the other pigments are not. So, when you cook a lobster, the other pigments break down, leaving only the bright red astaxanthin, thus a bright red lobster on your plate! More »