What is your favorite seafood - Salmon, Octopus, Lobster? Today, I’m going to talk about lobsters. Even more attractive - how about a Blue Lobster or a Rainbow Lobster? Yes, you heard it right - Lobsters can be seen in several colors. It is not fake, blue lobster exists! It is, in fact, one of the rarest sea animals on the planet. Catching one blue lobster is 1 in 2 million.
Blue Lobster isn't even a subspecies or a different species of Lobster; it's just a regular American or European lobster that a lot of people enjoy eating, it's just blue in color. The blue is caused by a rare genetic abnormality caused due to overproduction of a certain protein in its body. In fact, we can find lobsters in a variety of colors. Even in unusual colors - like cotton candy pink or yellow. But finding these pink or yellow lobster is even rarer. Lobsters can also be seen in bicolor (two-toned) and finding one of those is one in 50 million and that’s not even the rarest kind of lobster to find. The rarest lobster to spot on is the Albino or “Crystal” lobster. Chances of finding one of those is one in 100 million. The oceans are so mysterious that there are even more rare lobsters to find and learn about. Anyone to spot such rare crustaceans is sure to go on the news!
Finding one of these rare colorful crustaceans might be awesome, but regular lobsters are also pretty interesting to learn about, no matter what color they are. Lobsters have a hard body called an exoskeleton, made out of chitin. They do not have any bones on the inside of their bodies. They have five pairs of legs; on the top pair - one side of the claw is big, called Crusher Claw and the other side is small/thin called Pincher Claw. The Crusher Claw is powerful, it can release pressure up to 100 pounds per square inch and is used for crushing any prey that’s hard. The other one, the Pincher Claw, also called the Ripper or Quick Claw, used for ripping softer prey, such as fish or worms. The Lobster’s tail is cool. It is made up of muscles that flex and sweep water forward to push the lobster backward. Lobsters taste with their legs and chew with their stomach, which contain a grinding structure called the gastric mill and they act like teeth. And lobsters don’t have brains, meaning that they have fewer neurons than us. Their blood is gray or clear. Lobsters can also regenerate limbs, meaning they could grow a body part back. However, it would take a 1 pound lobster to regenerate a claw that’s about the same size as the one it had 5 years, according to Robert Bayer.
Lobsters are benthic, meaning they are bottom dwelling crustaceans. They are nocturnal and they live mostly in tropical waters, along the intertidal zone, where the ocean meets the land between high and low tides. Adult lobster usually stay in the subtidal zone, which is mostly underwater.
When you’re munching on some lobster, you may not think this animal is that vicious. But a favorite prey of adult lobster, a green crab, would tell you otherwise. Lobsters eat fish, clams, mussels, crab, sea urchins, and sometimes even other lobster!
Large lobsters can live for 50 years, which is a long time for a crustacean. Lobsters keep growing, so they can get to be really big. But almost no lobster survives long enough to get to its maximum size, as they are caught or preyed on.
For a female lobster to reproduce, it could take up to 20 months, from mating to hatching. The female lobster first sheds her shell, which releases a pheromone or a chemical messenger to a male lobster in front of the male lobster’s home. The female sheds her shell with her urine. But before that, the female chooses a lobster to mate with, usually the largest one around and signals the male, which would protect her when the female doesn’t have her shell. Soon the male gently turns her soft, unprotected body onto its back with his walking legs and mouth parts and uses his swimmerets, which are also called his abdominal limbs or appendages, to transfer his sperm cells to her body. The female would stay in the male’s den for about a week, until her shell hardens and then the female and male leave each other. The female lobster stores the male's sperm in her body for months, until she is ready to have eggs. Then, she turns to her back to release 10,000 to 20,000 eggs, which pass through the sperm receptacle and then stick to the bottom of her tail. The eggs might be from multiple dads and the female will take care of the eggs by fanning them with her swimmerets to give them oxygen and clear them from dust and debris. The newer eggs are small and green, while the developed ones are brown or even orange!
The female will carry these eggs for 11 months and inside the egg, the baby starts growing by shedding its own shell in the egg. And when the time is right, the female lobster will position her swimmerets to face the current and fan them for one last time before releasing them into the plankton, leaving them to fend for themselves.
After the lobster eggs hatch, they become planktonic, which means they float in the water in the plankton, where they transform. Since a lot of animals that feed on planktons, the survival chance of these lobster larvae becoming adults is really small. After that, they go through a stage that scientists call the benthic stage, and hide in the rocks in the sea bottom, where they get bigger and become adult lobsters.
Lobsters are really tough, and a lot of animals still eat them. Lobsters are eaten by flounder, cod, sculpins, eels, rock gunnels, crabs and seals. Lobsters are also eaten by humans so much that really big lobsters, the ones that live for their whole lifetime are hunted out. Once upon a time, lobsters were considered as prison food because they were found abundant. It is hunted so much that it is now, a delicacy! So the next time you put a piece in your mouth, remember that you are eating prison food!
Learning about these crustaceans are like finding rare gems. You never know how much it will amaze you! Don't you agree? What's your feeling on lobsters now? Comment below.
Plankton: small, microscopic, animals that float in the water.
Pheromone: chemical messengers
Fend: to defend for oneself
Each Crustacean is a rare find gem! Wondering what else could amaze you more? Check out the below opportunity in STEM-E.