Lobsters are a family of large marine crustaceans.
Lobsters live in all oceans, on rocky, sandy, or muddy bottoms from the shoreline to beyond the edge of the continental shelf. They generally live singly in crevices or in burrows under rocks.
Lobsters live up to an estimated 45 to 50 years in the wild, although determining age is difficult.
There are about 30 species of lobsters.
Although several other groups of crustaceans have the word “lobster” in their names, the unqualified term “lobster” generally refers to the clawed lobsters of the family Nephropidae.
The best known lobsters are the American and European lobsters.
Most lobsters are 25 to 50 centimeters (10 to 20 inches) in length.
Lobsters have long bodies with muscular tails used for swimming; flexure of the tail and abdomen propel the animal backward.
They have a tough exoskeleton, which protects them. Like most arthropods, lobsters must molt in order to grow, leaving them vulnerable during this time. During the molting process, several species may experience a change in color.
Three of their five pairs of legs have claws, including the first pair, which are usually much larger than the others.
Short bristles cover the insides of the pincers on the walking legs, these are taste receptors.
Lobsters have compound eyes on movable stalks, pair of long antennae, and three pairs of swimming legs (swimmerets) on the elongated abdomen.
Typically, lobsters are dark colored, either bluish green or greenish brown as to blend in with the ocean floor, but they can be found in a multitude of colors.
They move by slowly walking on the sea floor. However, when they flee, they swim backward quickly by curling and uncurling their abdomens. A speed of 5 m/s (11 mph) has been recorded
A female lays 3,000 or more eggs, which remain attached to her swimmerets until they hatch several months later. Unlike adults, the larvae, about 1 cm (0.4 inch) long, swim freely for about 12 days and then descend to the bottom, where they remain.
Highly prized as seafood, lobsters are economically important, and are often one of the most profitable commodities in coastal areas they populate.
Lobster recipes include lobster Newberg and lobster Thermidor. Lobster is used in soup, bisque, lobster rolls, and cappon magro. Lobster meat may be dipped in clarified butter, resulting in a heightened flavor. Cooks boil or steam live lobsters. When a lobster is cooked, its shell’s color changes from blue to orange.
Lobster has traditionally been a plentiful food item, so plentiful in fact that it also served as bait to catch fish prior to the end of the 19th century.
In North America, the American lobster did not achieve popularity until the mid-19th century, when New Yorkers and Bostonians developed a taste for it, and commercial lobster fisheries only flourished after the development of the lobster smack, a custom-made boat with open holding wells on the deck to keep the lobsters alive during transport.
Prior to this time, lobster was considered a poverty food or as a food for indentured servants or lower members of society in Maine, Massachusetts, and the Canadian Maritimes. Some servants specified in employment agreements that they would not eat lobster more than twice per week, however there is limited evidence for this. Lobster was also commonly served in prisons, much to the displeasure of inmates.
Today, its popularity and price limit its commercial use to serving as a delicacy.
According to Guinness World Records, the largest lobster ever caught was in Nova Scotia, Canada, weighing 20.15 kilograms (44.4 lb).
Lobsters are closely related to shrimp and crabs.