Species: H. americanus
Common Names: Maine Lobster, American Lobster, Canadian Lobster, True Lobster, Northern Lobster, Canadian Red
Maine lobsters, when they reach adulthood, live on the ocean floor, where they feed on mollusks, starfish and sea urchins, and other invertebrates. They prefer cold waters in shallow areas with rocky habitats where they can hide from predators. They are mostly found in the Atlantic Ocean along the northeastern coastline of North America.
Female lobsters will lay eggs that attach to their pleopods, fin-like structures on the underside of the tail normally used for swimming. The mother will care for her eggs until they are ready to hatch, about 10 to 11 months later. Newly hatched lobsters go through a period of molting, where they shed their shells and grow to larger and larger sizes.
These young lobsters are initially very small and considered plankton. They are vulnerable to predators in this state, and only about 1 out of every 1000 lobster larva will survive to adulthood. When they finally grow into a form resembling an adult lobster, they are still only about one-half of an inch in length. They will continue to molt and grow throughout their lives.
The Maine lobster is the heaviest crustacean in the world, weighing up to 44 pounds in extreme cases. At up to two feet in length, it is also one of the longest members of the order Decapoda.
Maine lobsters have hard shells, segmented tails, and a front pair of legs that has been evolved into claws – one larger one for crushing its prey animals, and a smaller claw for cutting and gripping. The larger claw may be either left or right; like humans, lobsters have a dominant “claw” that they favor, and this claw is the larger one.
While most people probably think of lobsters as red, this usually only happens during the cooking process. Live lobsters with red coloration are extremely rare. Other rare colorations include blue, yellow, and orange. In the rarest of circumstances, lobsters may be completely lacking in pigment and appear white (known as leucistic), or they may be “split” with the left and right halves of the animal being two completely different colors.
The most common coloration of the Maine lobster is a bluish green, or brown. They may also have a scattering of red, yellow, and blue areas in different parts of their body.
While many crustaceans share the name “lobster”, including the spiny lobster, most of them are only distantly related to each other.
Lobsters have a reputation for being able to grow to a very old age, and some people even refer to them as “immortal”. They are not actually immortal, although they don’t show the usual signs of aging that most other living creatures undergo as they grow older. It is believed they can live to over 70 years old, though not many lobsters make it this far.
Most animals tend to get weaker as they grow old, but lobsters keep right on going until the end. They contain an enzyme called telomerase throughout their cells that helps keep their cells fresh and rejuvenated. Humans also have telomerase in their cells, but only in some of them, such as embryonic stem cells. So, unlike lobsters, humans show many signs of aging as they grow older.