Maine lobstering: general information
The American lobster (Homarus americanus, see Fig. 7.1) is found in the waters off the Atlantic coast of North America from Newfoundland to Virginia. Concentrations of lobsters are greatest in waters less than 55 meters deep. Although lobsters are found on all kinds of bottom types, they prefer rocky areas, especially where there is a good deal of kelp in which to hide.
Lobsters eat a wide variety of foods, both living and dead organisms. Their preferred foods are fish, mollusks and small crustaceans. They can also filter plankton from the water, and thus can live in untended traps for considerable periods. They are also cannibalistic and will eat small lobsters and soft shelled lobsters regardless of size. For this reason fishermen immobilize the lobster's claws, usually by placing a thick rubber band around each claw, making it impossible to open.
When lobsters have outgrown the capacity of their shells, molting occurs. During molting the lobster wiggles out of its shell, after which the lobster is soft, weak, and highly vulnerable. Its only defense is to hide for a few weeks until its shell has hardened again. Although lobsters can molt in any month, a very large proportion molt from mid-June to mid-August. For this reason, fishing is bad during mid-summer, since so many are in the rocks and not feeding. Small lobsters molt several times a year, but commercial size lobsters molt only once.
Lobsters mate after the female has molted.