WHAT IS A LOBSTER
Homarus gammarus, known as the European lobster or common lobster has been found from the Mediterranean Sea to Northern Norway and west to the Shetland Islands and Western Ireland. It is a close relative to the American Lobster, Homarus americanus.
Living in shallow waters less than 40m deep lobsters prefer a rocky and sandy terrain, as we have in North Berwick. Active at night they hunt live prey, scavenging dead organisms or occasionally eating plant food. They shelter individually in burrows during the daytime, known for being territorial.
European lobsters are invertebrates, enclosed in a hard, rigid protective exoskeleton or shell. They grow in length by shedding their exoskeleton, a process known as moulting. During each moult they typically increase by 10 to 15%, adding muscle cells each time. After moulting they are soft, known as jellies, which makes them vulnerable and will eat their own shell to give them the energy and nutrients they need to harden their shell. They can regenerate lost limbs, able to loose claws or legs to escape danger.
They have long bodies with muscular tails, which they flip, swimming backwards away from danger, but can also walk along the ocean floor. Three of their five pairs of walking legs have claws. The first pair is specialised and much larger than the others. One is blunt for crushing, the other sharper and less bulky for slicing.
They use long antennae on their heads as sensors on the murky ocean floor with a shorter, double-set of hairy antennae on the lobster’s nose. A fan of short hair on the tail and walking legs are finely tuned to act as smell and taste receptors.
Lobsters are solitary, nocturnal and territorial only coming together in pairs to mate. The fertilised eggs are attached underneath the tail, (shown opposite) and carried for 9 to 11 months, before the female gently releases the hatching larvae by fanning her tail.