“When life gives you lemons, order some lobster instead,” is a quote that you will hear every day because lobsters have been eaten for thousands of years and they haven’t become any less of a delicacy. Underneath that beautiful red exoskeleton is a crustacean that is so complicated that scientists haven’t explained most of the things that amaze us about lobsters after all these years. The one thing we know is that they can be called bugs because they are more closely related to spiders and lizards than they are to crabs and other large seafood. There are many interesting things facts about lobsters that we already know and these are the most interesting.
They were once considered a poor man’s food
Most countries now regulate the number of lobsters fished in their waters because there aren’t that many of them around anymore. However, before the 19th century, lobsters were one of the most widely available seafood on Earth with piles of them reported to wash up on shores after storms. Lobsters were so many that they could be fished by hand and therefore there was no high price tag attached to them. They are often fed to pigs; so, peasants and slaves were the only people that enjoyed the delicacy. Increased demand and overfishing during the 19th and 20th centuries led to the transformation of lobsters into luxury food.
Losing their limbs is not a problem
Lobsters don’t stop growing and given a chance, they can grow until they are a meter long. During that period, clawed lobsters may lose any of their claws multiple times in their lives. The lobster’s claw may be lost during fights for a mate or when running away from a predator. When the lobster moults, every claw it loses grows back in the same shape and size and whichever claw was dominant before the loss is restored in the same capacity. Their ability to regrow everything during moulting is so amazing. It is more like a rebirth where everything is renewed. Females also only mate after they have moulted because that is when their bodies are soft enough to mate.
They don’t really scream when cooked
The reason why many people shy away from cooking lobsters at home is because they feel like it is too cruel because the crustaceans seem to scream when inserted into the pot to boil. While it is sad to watch the poor crustaceans as they are boiled alive, they don’t have vocal cords nor even the powerful gills to give a scream. The sound often comes from the air trapped under the shells leaving as the fish is heated. The lobsters may still feel pain though because they scratch their legs aggressively when they hit the hot water.
They can live for up to 100 years
If they didn’t end up in a lobster pot, most lobsters will live to a good old age of 100 or more. Lobsters don’t have that many natural predators especially when they grow that big. Since they don’t stop growing, the oldest lobsters caught can be as big as a meter and weigh up to 50 pounds. The only way a lobster dies is when it stops moulting and there is no scientific evidence as to when this actually sets in. Even the oldest lobsters stay in shape and continue to reproduce which is why some people refer to lobsters as immortal.
They are not monogamous
“You are my lobster,” is a true romantic quote because many people believe that lobsters only mate with one partner for life. The idea was largely popularized by films and shows such as Friends which allege that lobsters mate for life. In a real sense, a female seeks out a dominant male in the territory when it is ready to moult and then seduces it by urinating near its layer. When the male accepts the courtship, the female moults and then mates for about two weeks before moving on to find a suitable spot for laying eggs. It can choose any male to mate with when moulting and therefore isn’t faithful to any particular mate.
The female can carry sperms up to two years after mating
Only two in 50,000 lobster hatchlings make it to adulthood which is why the mother has to be selective of the male that she mates with and most importantly, when and where she releases her hatched eggs. One lobster has more than 10 thousand eggs that need to be hatched and sometimes, one male may not provide all the sperm needed to fertilize it so the female keeps the sperm until it finds another suitable male. After mating, the female may carry the sperms for up to two years waiting for the right temperature and waters where the young ones can live.
Their “teeth” are on the stomach
A lobster has an interesting process of eating involving grabbing food using their dominant claw and then crushing it with their crusher. They then use their cutter to shred food into smaller pieces that the lobster then puts in the mouth. The food is not chewed until it reaches the stomach where an organ that appears like three sets of molars chews and grinds the food.
They are not red before they are cooked
Like shrimp and crabs, lobsters have a special pigment called astaxanthin which absorbs the blue colour from their pigments. You can therefore find yellow, brownish or blue lobsters in nature. There are even white lobsters which are actually albinos. When cooked, the heat separates the astaxanthin from under the shells causing the red colour in boiled lobster.
They can be cannibals
Mature lobsters have few natural predators, except human beings of course but that doesn’t mean they are that friendly to their kind. When food is scarce, lobsters may go wild and start eating their own kind. The large ones often feed on the smaller ones because they are easy pickings. Hatchlings which roam around feeding on phytoplankton may also eat their siblings.
Their blood is not Red
Some people think that the creamy green substance inside a lobster is its coagulated blood but that is not the case. That substance is pretty much all of the lobster’s innards including the liver, pancreas and intestines fused together. The lobster’s blood is not red though. It is usually a clear liquid that turns into a white/grey paste when the lobster is cooked.