Down East - Late Summer 2011 travel blog

hard shell

soft shell


We are lobster fiends. A pot large enough to boil two lobsters is in the basement of our motor home at all times. We also brought a set of lobster eating tools along as well. It pays to be ready. Last time we were here, we found some campgrounds that had their own lobster pounds and would prepare a take home feast. So far we have relied on local restaurants to fill our lobster needs. Lobsters never stop growing. Every summer they molt, shedding their old shells and secreting new ones. When they first make a new shell it is a bit soft and quite spacious. During this time their meat is especially tender and the shells are easy to open. Since the soft shell lobster looks bigger than it really is, restaurants often sell two to provide the same size meal that one hard shell would provide. From the outside landlubbers like us cannot tell the difference.

Interesting lobster facts:

• It takes the average lobster from five to seven years to reach legal size. In that time it will shed its shell between 25 and 27 times. During the molt it is especially vulnerable to predators.

• A female lobster will bear between 6,000 and 100,000 eggs. Fishery conservation laws prevent fishermen from keeping egg bearing females.

• Prior to the mid 1800's lobsters were considered only good enough to use as fertilizer. In fact, lobsters collected after storms washed them ashore were only fed to the hired help. Some servant contracts limited the amount of lobster dinners they would eat in a week.

• Lobsters are naturally a greenish yellow color. One in two million is blue. Only cooked lobsters are red.

• The largest lobster ever caught was pulled up off Nova Scotia and weighed just over 44 pounds. It was believed to be over 100 years old. Divers off the Maine coast have reported seeing far larger lobsters.

• The only legal way to catch lobsters is with a licensed trap. The largest lobsters typically found in traps weigh fifteen pounds, although ones that big must be thrown back for exceeding maximum size.

• Despite the fact that they have more than 20,000 "eyes," lobsters have terrible vision and communicate by smell and sensing movement with their antennae.

• Unlike many other sea creatures we like to eat that have become endangered, the lobster population is growing off the coast of Maine. In the last fifty years the annual catch has quadrupled.

Keep 'em coming!

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