Tuesday, March 15, 2011

American Lobster

American Lobster
Phylum : Arthropoda
Class : Malacostraca
Order : Decapoda
Family : Nephropidae
Genus : Homarus
Species : H. americanus

Length : 8-24in (20-61cm)
Weight : 2-9lbs (1-4kg)

IUCN Status : Not Listed

The American Lobster, as its name might suggest, can be found in the waters of the Atlantic, running from Canada down to the Carolinas. They do not swim, instead they move about by crawling thanks to four pairs of walking legs. The fifth pair, (or rather, the first if going from head to tail) makes up the large claws.

Molting is a very important activity in the life of a Lobster. As they grow towards adulthood, juvenile Lobsters will molt their carapace multiple times a year. They essentially grow a whole new shell under their old one, and then seek out a safe place to shed. The Lobsters are vulnerable for a time after their old shell has been discarded, because the new one is still soft. It will harden over time, and adult Lobsters molt about once a year.

Molting has a big part in Lobster reproduction, as females can only mate when their new carapaces are soft, right after molting. They can lay thousands of eggs at once, which are carried on the underside of the female's tail for as long as a year!

American Lobsters are opportunistic feeders. They dine on Plankton, Mollusks, Fish, Algae, Worms, and even other Lobsters. They have also been known to consume their own recently molted shells!

The harvesting of American Lobster is a $300,000,000 industry, and overfishing exists in some areas of southern New England. Measurements are in place by the NOAA that outline the protection of breeding females, the minimum size a Lobster must be at to be caught, and what types of traps can be used. The largest American Lobster ever caught weighed 44lbs (20kg).

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