Maine Lobster History
Fresh Maine lobster became a luxury food and a tourist attraction for the Maritime Provinces and a luxury export to Europe and Japan where it is especially expensive.
The lobsters that most people know from their dinner plates are the American and European clawed lobsters Homarus americanus and Homarus gammarus. These are cold water species that live on either sides of the northern Atlantic Ocean. There are also tropical lobsters that are widely consumed, but these are generally clawless varieties called spiny and slipper lobsters.
Lobsters are ten-legged crustaceans closely related to shrimp and crabs. These benthic, or bottom-dwelling, creatures are found in all of the world’s oceans, as well as brackish environments and even freshwater. They have poor eyesight but highly developed senses of taste and smell. They feed primarily on fish and mollusks, but will consume algae and other plant life and even other lobsters.
Female lobsters carry their eggs under their abdomens for up to a year before releasing them as larvae into the water. The larvae go through several stages in the water column before settling on the bottom, where they spend the rest of their lives. They generally prefer to live in self-dug burrows, in rocky crevices, or hidden among sea grasses. Lobsters must shed their shells in order to grow, and some species can live to be 50 years old or more, growing continually throughout their lives.