Man isn’t the only one who feeds on lobsters…Say hello to lobster cannibalism!

By on September 3, 2013

For all those lobster eating lovers out there…you may be interested to know that one of the biggest threats to lobsters other than man are the lobsters themselves!

With the ever increasing temperature of the sea due to global warming, lobsters are over producing and feeding on themselves as there is a shortage of their normal staple meals of cod, herring and ‘ground fish’. So not only do young lobsters have to keep a vigil eye out for their regular predators, they now have to be on guard from their family members and friends alike.

Although lobsters have been known to assault and eat each other in captivity — not a surprising reaction given the conditions – marine biologists have recently observed an unprecedented degree of lobster cannibalism taking place in the wild.

 Noah Oppenheim, a biologist studying the New England marine ecosystem, was the first to record the new development by setting up a camera trap using a young lobster as bait, reports The Independent.

 When the same kind of experiments were conducted 20 years ago, other fish would feed on the bait; now, it’s adult lobsters that are swooping in and making mincemeat of their young. After repeated experiments, scientists concluded that juvenile lobsters were 90 percent more likely to be attacked and eaten by adult lobsters than by any other type of fish.

 Oppenheim believes that rising water temperatures are to blame; over the past decade, the average temperature in the coastal water there has been 50.7 degrees Fahrenheit, a significant increase above the century average of 47.6 degrees.

“As the water temperatures elevate, lobsters both become more fecund,” said Oppenheim, speaking to James West of Climate Desk. “They reproduce more frequently and with larger broods and they grow more rapidly. If we enjoy eating lobsters perhaps other lobsters enjoy eating lobsters too.”

Noah Oppenheim’s plan was simple: Rig a young lobster underneath a waterproof, infrared camera; drop the contraption overboard off the coast of Maine; and see who comes along for a bite to eat. The takers, he expected, would be fish: Cod, herring, and other “groundfish” found in these waters that are known to love a good lobster dinner. Similar experiments conducted in the 1990s showed that apart from being snatched up in one of the thousands of traps that sprinkle the sea floor here—tools of this region’s signature trade—fish predation was the principle cause of lobster death. Instead, Oppenheim, a marine biology graduate student at the University of Maine, captured footage that looks like it comes straight from the reel of a 1950s B-grade horror movie: Rampant lobster cannibalism.

After doing some research I learned some interesting facts about lobsters that may be of news to you as well:

  • Lobsters can be aggressive and have been known to snack on their sick or dead peers and apparently young one’s as well as seen in the video above
  • Those rubber bands placed on the lobsters claws are not only for human fingers — they’re also to protect lobsters from one another
  • Lobster is a good source of protein and doesn’t have the high saturated fat that fatty meat products do (it should be noted that they are referring to lobsters eaten alone and not with the warm drawn butter that we love so much to accompany our lobster gluttony)
    Spiny lobster and American lobster
  • Not all lobsters have claws: There are two kinds of lobsters, and these are commonly referred to as “clawed” lobsters and “spiny” lobsters (also known as langouste or rock lobsters). Clawed lobsters include the American lobster, a well-known marine species. Clawed lobsters are generally found in cold waters. Spiny lobsters do not have claws, but instead have long, strong antennae. These lobsters are generally found in warm water.
  • Lobsters can live a long time. It takes an American lobster 6-7 years to get to an edible size, but that is just the beginning. Lobsters are long-lived marine animals, and are thought to be capable of living over 100 years.
  • How Do You Distinguish a Male Lobster From a Female Lobster?
    • Lobsters have feathery appendages called swimmerets, or pleopods, underneath their tail. These swimmerets help a lobster swim and are also where a female lobster carries her eggs after she carries them internally for 9-12 months. Swimmerets also can clue you in to the sex of a lobster. The first pair of swimmerets (the pair closest to the head) are soft on a female, but hard and bony on a male.
  • Tomalley or lobster paste is the term for the the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of lobsters, that fulfills the functions of both the liver and the pancreas. It is considered a delicacy, and may be eaten alone but is often added to sauces for flavour and as a thickening agent. 
  • Lobster roe or lobster eggs (fully ripe internal egg masses, red in color when cooked) are also considered to be a delicacy
I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I am now craving some lobster. So that being said, go out and enjoy some lobster in any form that pleases you and your crustacean craving!

I was fortunate enough to eat some fresh PEI Lobster a couple
of weeks ago…mouth watering to say the least!


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