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Ins & Outs of Giant Lobster

Cody with his PR lobster

With lobster season open here in California, there’s been a lot of pictures showing some impressive catches. This sparks lots of questions about these tasty crustaceans.

1.How old are these giant lobsters?

2.Are they the breeders everyone says they are?

3.What is the best way to release these giant breeders?

How old are these giant lobsters?

For simplicity, I will define “giant” meaning 10 pounds or bigger. Considering that it takes a legal-size lobster measuring 3.25” in carapace length and weighing around 1 pound 7 to 11 years to reach sexual maturity, a 10-pound lobster could be 50 or more years old. Scientists can only estimate the exact age of these giant lobster due to currently not having an accurate method of aging. What scientists do know is that males tend to live longer, grow faster, and usually grow larger than females. The largest California Spiny lobster ever recorded was 26 pounds and had a 3’ long body.

Are these giants really super producers of sperm and eggs?

Short answer is yes. Just like most healthy older animals, these giants are genetically superior because they clearly are built to last. Larger females have larger tails which can carry more eggs. This is significant because only about 3% of the hatchlings reach just over a 1” long. As for the males, their sperm will help pass on to the hatchlings their durability. So, I personally feel that it is best practice to release these lobster after you take photos of your prize catch.

What is the best way to release lobsters?

According to marine biologist, Chris Okamoto from Cabrillo Aquarium in Long Beach, California, air can get under a lobster’s carapace when removed from the water. When air gets trapped under the carapace, the air spot causes tissue damage which can lead to death. He suggests that inverting and rolling them from side to side in order to let any air that may have been under the carapace to escape. This action is fairly important for the larger lobsters because they tend to be more fragile than the smaller ones.

Personally, I usually try and release the larger lobster. My routine is something like catch them, take photos, put them in my bait tank, then release them somewhere safe. What you do with your catch is up to you, but it is nice to be informed about how we can impact the environment.

Special thanks to Chris Okamoto for sharing his knowledge with the community.

More information on spiny lobsters check out.

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