While there are many different species of clawed lobsters, the American lobster prefers to make its home in colder waters off the Atlantic coast of North America.
  • Size

    Common length of 8 to 24 inches (20-61 cm)
  • Diet

    Clams, crabs, snails, small fish, algae and eelgrass
  • Range

    Atlantic coast of North America from Labrador to North Carolina
  • Habitat

    Rocky bottoms or sandy and muddy areas

Physical Characteristics

  • American lobster is usually olive-green or greenish brown, with some red or orange in their spines. Diet, heredity and exposure to light all affect a lobster’s coloration.
  • This lobster commonly reaches 8 to 24 inches (20-61 cm) in length and 1 to 9 lbs. (0.5-4.1 kg) but has been known to grow to over 3 feet (91 cm) and weigh 44 lbs. (20 kg).
  • One claw is usually larger than the other and has thick ridges used to crush prey. The other claw is smaller and has sharp ridges for cutting.
  • Lobsters have compound eyes that are carried on movable eye stalks. Each eye is made up of approximately 14,000 individual units and can only detect motion, not details or colors.

Animal Fact

Lobsters have compound eyes that are carried on movable eye stalks. Each eye is made up of approximately 14,000 individual units and can only detect motion, not details or colors.

Diet / Feeding

  • This lobster’s diet consists mostly of clams, crabs, snails, small fish, algae and eelgrass. It will also scavenge.
  • It remains among rocks or in its burrow during the day to avoid predators (mainly cod, black sea bass and tautog) and ventures out at night in search for food. Individuals may venture into the intertidal zone during high tides.

Range / Habitat

  • American lobster occurs along the Atlantic coast of North America from Labrador to North Carolina, but is most prevalent on the coast of New England.
  • Found from the intertidal zone to about 1197 feet (365 m) and is most common at depths of 13 to 16 feet (4-5 m).
  • American lobster is a cold-water species. It prefers temperatures from 35 to 50 degrees F (1.7-10 C). Prolonged exposure to higher water temperatures can be lethal.
  • Its preferred habitat is rocky bottoms with places to hide. It can also be found in sandy and muddy areas where it constructs a burrow.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Female is ready to mate at about five years of age. Mating must occur within 48 hours after the female molts and the process usually lasts about a minute. Female stores sperm until the eggs are ready.
  • After fertilization, female carries the eggs attached to her swimmerets underneath her tail for about 10 to 11 months until they hatch as transparent larvae.
  • Larvae concentrate near the surface of the water and pass through four stages over 10 to 20 days, depending on water temperature. Final larval stage settles to the bottom.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List
  • Although this species is not endangered, conservation efforts have been implemented to protect lobster populations from overfishing. Laws regulate the size of lobsters taken.
  • Other regulations include limiting the number of traps set, limits on the number of lobster fishing licenses and designating times of the year when lobsters are harvested.

Additional Information

  • Lobsters that live close to shore tend to stay in one small area, seldom moving more than a mile or so. Deep water lobsters farther out on the continental shelf migrate shoreward in the summer, returning to the shelf as temperatures cool in the autumn.
  • In warmer climates, inshore populations will seek shelter in cooler, deep water during the summer.
  • Lobsters grow by going through a series of molts.
    • When a lobster is ready to molt, its body absorbs the calcium that hardens its shell by drawing the salts further into its body. When the shell softens, the lobster is able to split it down a seam along the back and slide out.
    • Once out of its shell, the lobster takes in more water and swells in size. The new shell is already covering its body but takes a few days to harden. During this period the lobster stays in seclusion to avoid predators.
    • Each time a young lobster molts its body can grow as much as 10-15% in size. Growth in older individuals is less.

Sources

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