Many people today are dedicated to saving lobsters by reducing human consumption and rescuing lobsters from stores.
Even people who love to eat lobsters are concerned with increased legal protections for the species.
Listen to this podcast with the authors of the best selling book, “The Secret Life of Lobsters”
One place you absolutely, positively do not want to be if you’re a healthy, middle-aged American lobster: trapped in a suburban grocery store in western Pennsylvania. But that’s where this week’s podcast begins.
It doesn’t stay there long, though. Bonnie Hazen and Toni Leone take us on an adventure that carries us by car, by plane, and by boat toward a deeper understanding of those mysterious protective feelings that sometimes sweep over us — well, some of us — when we encounter our fellow animals — um, okay, some of them.
“Ultimately, this investigation into society, science and sustainability leaves a complex, satisfying taste in your mouth” (Time Out New York )
“I can highly recommend this book as one of the best things you can enjoy without melted butter.” (Natural History magazine )
“Charmingly written, full of fascinating detail: a delight.” (Kirkus Reviews )
In this intimate portrait of an island lobstering community and an eccentric band of renegade biologists, journalist Trevor Corson escorts the reader onto the slippery decks of fishing boats, through danger-filled scuba dives, and deep into the churning currents of the Gulf of Maine to learn about the secret undersea lives of lobsters.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
About the Author
The author of The Secret Life of Lobsters, Trevor Corson has studied philosophy in China, resided in Buddhist temples in Japan, and worked on commercial fishing boats off the Maine coast. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times and is the only “sushi concierge” in the United States. He lives in New York City.
How many kinds of lobsters are there in the USA, and why are different varieties called lobster?
Two kinds of lobster-like crustaceans exist in United States waters. The “true” lobster (the American lobster) is designated as such to differentiate it from the other form found here, the spiny lobster. The two, from different families, display two differences:
1) American Lobster
The true lobster has claws on the first four legs, lacking in the spiny lobster; the spiny lobster has a pair of horns above the eyes, lacking in the true lobster. To avoid confusion over common names, it is best to call the true lobster the “American lobster,” and the spiny lobster just that. The item marketed as “lobster tail” usually is a spiny lobster. The spiny lobster is found in warm waters off Florida, in the West Indies, and off southern California. Record weight for the American lobster is 45 pounds.
2) Spiny Lobster
Does the deepwater northern lobster population differ from that found just off the coast?
The species in each population are identical in all respects.
How far do lobsters travel?
Inshore lobsters tend to stay in one place, seldom moving more than a mile or so, but deepwater lobsters farther out on the Continental Shelf follow a seasonal migratory pattern shoreward in summer, returning to the Shelf again in the autumn. The record travel so far is 225 miles covered by a lobster tagged off the Continental Shelf and recovered at Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York.
What color is a lobster’s blood?
Colorless. When exposed to oxygen, it develops a bluish color.
What is “tomalley”?
Tomalley is the lobster’s liver. It turns green when cooked and is considered a delicacy.
What is the coral colored material often seen in a cooked lobster?
Coral is the egg mass of a female lobster. Cooking colors the tiny eggs a deep coral or red.
How does a lobster grow?
Lobsters grow by molting. This is the process in which they struggle out of their old shells while simultaneously absorbing water which expands their body size. This molting, or shell-shedding, occurs about 25 times in the first 5-7 years of life. Following this cycle, the lobster will weigh approximately one pound and reach minimum legal size. A lobster at minimum legal size may then only molt once per year and increase about 15% in length and 40% in weight. No one has yet found a way to determine the exact age of a lobster. However, based on scientific knowledge of body size at age, the maximum age attained may approach 100 years. They can grow to be 3 feet or more in overall body length.
How many times must a lobster molt before it reaches market size?
Between 20 and 30 molts take place before a lobster reaches the one-pound market size.
How old is a one-pound lobster?
No one knows exactly, but aquarium studies suggest 5 to 7 years.
How many one-pound lobsters are needed for a pound of lobster meat?
Five, on the average.
How long can a lobster live out of water?
Several days if kept in a cool, moist environment. The lobster is a gill-breather, and moisture is essential to survival. cooked lobster
Can a lobster be kept alive in fresh water with ice?
No. Fresh water is lethal to a lobster. The animal has salty blood and tissue, which require a seawater environment if life is to be maintained.
Why does a lobster turn red when cooked?
The red pigment is the most stable component of the coloring in a lobster shell. The greens and browns which darken the shell in a live lobster are destroyed by cooking.
How can one tell if a boiled lobster was alive when cooked?
Upon the death of a lobster the tail loses its elasticity and ability to curl under the body. When plunged into boiling water, a live lobster curls its tail under. It remains in that position during and after cooking.
Have people been poisoned by eating lobsters that were allowed to die before being cooked?
lobster pot Is it true that a dead lobster deteriorates very rapidly?
What happens when a live lobster is frozen?
Lobsters are not poisonous if they die before cooking, but cooking should not be delayed. Many lobsters sold commercially are killed and frozen before cooking. Lobsters and other crustaceans do spoil rapidly after death, which is why many buyers insist on receiving them alive. If the lobster is “headed” before or soon after death, the body meat will keep fresh longer. This is because the so-called head includes the thorax, the site of most of the viscera and gills, which spoil much more rapidly than claw or tail meat. Freezing slows deteriorative changes and harmful chemical actions that follow death.
Is it possible to raise lobsters on a commercial basis?
Not yet, but research is underway to develop rearing techniques and to assess the economic feasibility of rearing the American lobster commercially. In the opinion of many scientists working with the American lobster, commercial aquaculture can be achieved in the near future with a sufficient level of effort. Future projections for the culture of the spiny lobster are not, however, optimistic. Unlike the American lobster which has a relatively short larval life (several weeks), the spiny lobster has a larval life of about six or seven months. The technical difficulties presented by the fragile, demanding requirements of the early life stages discount the use of traditional hatchery methods with any degree of success or practicality.
Have Maine lobsters been successfully transplanted to the west coast?
Attempts have been made to do so, but success has been limited. The Canadian government discontinued in mid-1973 a six-year-old experiment in which the lobsters were reared successfully in the waters off British Columbia. The decision to drop the project was evidently dictated by economics.
I’ve heard that lobsters molt, but I’ve never seen a cast-off shell. Why?
After molting, lobsters will eat voraciously, often devouring their own recently vacated shells. This replenishment of lost calcium hastens the hardening of the new shell which takes about 14-30 days from the actual loss of the old shell.
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