East coast of North America from Labrador to Virginia.
Saltwater estuaries, bays and oceans
The American Lobster, also know as the Atlantic or Maine Lobster thrives in cold, shallow waters where there are many rocks and other places to hide from predators. It is both a solitary and nocturnal creature that feeds on fish, small crustaceans, and mollusks. During warmer months, the lobster lives close to shore, moving to deeper water during the winter.
There’s an enormous size range among lobsters. Typically, they’re from 12 to 36 inches in length and weigh from 1 to 3 pounds, but specimens have been found that weigh as much as 45 pounds. The usual color is blackish-green, with red-tipped appendages. There are rare blue, red, white, and yellow lobsters.
The lobster has two eyes on stalks and two pair of antennae. The first pair of antennae is short and provides a sense of smell. The second pair is longer than the animal’s body and is used to feel the area around the lobster. Lobsters have five pairs of legs. The front pair and are usually used for hunting and fighting, not for locomotion. They remaining four pairs are used for walking.
The front claws or pincers start out identical, but over time, with use the lobster will start to favor one over the other. The favored claw will get bigger and become what is known as the crusher claw. The other claw, the pincher, will develop fast-acting muscle tissue useful for grabbing prey quickly.
American lobsters can molt (shed their shell) two to three times a year when they are young, but only once a year or less often when fully mature, which is about four to seven years old. When a lobster is getting ready to molt, it will start to grow a new shell underneath and the outer shell will become very hard and darken. The line that runs along the back of the lobster’s shell will begin to split, and the two halves will fall away.
Female usually mate right after molting, while her new shell is still soft. Eggs are carried internally for 9 to 12 months and then spend about the same length of time attached to the “swimmerets,” small fin-like appendages beneath her tail. After the eggs hatch, the larvae float near the water’s surface for a month or more and those that survive settle to the bottom and begin to develop into baby lobsters. A large female may carry more than 100,000 eggs, but only about two out of every 50,000 actually grow to adulthood.
Did You Know?
Around one in two million lobsters are blue and we have one here at the Buttonwood Park Zoo!