Characteristics of the Lobster

Characteristics of the Lobster
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Many different species of lobsters live in the world’s oceans, but the one we are most familiar with in the United States is the American lobster (homarus americanus). According to, American lobsters are found along North America's Atlantic shoreline from North Carolina to Labrador. They are commonly trapped and sold on the seafood market, particularly along the coast of New England.

Body Structure

A lobster's body structure is characterized by a tough exoskeleton and a highly fragmented or multi-jointed body. According to, lobsters have five pairs of appendages, the front two of which feature claws. While one claw, known as the crusher, is rotund and used for crushing prey, the other, known as the seizer or pincher, is narrow, has serrated blades or teeth and is used for cutting or grabbing prey. These appendages, in addition to a pair of antennae and six pairs of mouth feelers, are attached to the large, rigid front portion of the lobster known as the cephalothorax. The back, flexible section of the lobster, commonly referred to as the tail, features a series of swimmerets on each of its sides and a flipper-like segment at its end.

Reproduction and Growth

According to, after lobsters mate, the female produces thousands of eggs that stay attached to her swimmerets for approximately one year. After this period, the eggs drop and hatch, and the surviving larvae begin their lives as little shrimp-like creatures. They swim around for approximately another year, eating plankton and molting or shedding their exoskeletons—a process they complete about 15 times before they drop to the bottom and begin their adult lives. According to, during the next fives years, lobsters will grow on average to about 3 pounds in weight and will continue to molt four or five times each year. If, at any a point, a lobster loses an appendage, it can grow a replacement.


American lobsters are most commonly associated with being red in color. However, according to, while some lobsters are naturally red or more likely dark red, most are dark blue-green. Lobsters that are white, yellow and completely blue have also been found. The bright red color we associate with lobsters only comes after cooking. However, according to, white lobsters that are true albinos will remain white even after they are cooked.

Eating Habits

Lobsters are primarily scavengers and feed on the bits of biological matter that fall from the ocean above. However, they also prey on small, live organisms that live on or near the sea bottom, such as starfish, shellfish, sea urchins and even tiny fish.

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