Do lobsters feel pain when you cook them? The nervous system of a lobster is very simple. For an organism to perceive pain it must have a more complex nervous system. Neurophysiologists tell us that lobsters, like insects, do not process pain.

What is the “green stuff” you find in the cooked lobsters? Can you eat it? This is the tomalley or tamali, which functions like the liver, pancreas and intestines in the lobster. Many find it delicious to eat. Recently there have been concerns about finding dioxin in tomalley. According to the Advanced Seafood Handbook “there are no known safety considerations when it comes to eating lobster meat. However, consumers are advised not to eat the tomalley, the light green substance found in the lobster’s carapace. This is the liver and pancreas, which are thought to accumulate contaminants from the environment.” Much like the liver of other animals, the lobster’s tomalley is the natural filter for contaminants, like dioxins, from entering the system. Finding dioxins in the lobster tomalley is regrettable. However, it is also a reassuring indication of the lobster’s natural defense system at work, keeping the lobster meat wholesome, nutritious and delicious.

What do you call a lobster with one claw? Will that claw grow back? A lobster that has lost one claw or has any missing appendage is called a cull. One that has lost two claws is called a bullet or dummie. Lobsters can grow back new claws, legs and antennae.

What is the red stuff you find inside along the tail of cooked lobster? Can you eat it? This reddish “coral” as it is called is lobster roe or eggs. Some consider it a gourmet treat.

What is the difference between a hard shell and soft shell lobster? Lobsters will periodically shed their shells as they grow. This can happen as many as 25 times before they are 6-7 years old; the males shed every year and mature, females every two years. When lobsters become very large, molting is less frequent. After they shed, they have a paper thin shell, which can take up to two months to harden, and are called soft-shell, new shell or shedders. The debate goes on as to which is most tasty, though the soft-shell are definitely easier to crack!

What is the white “goop” you find in the lobsters and the water after you cook them? This is the hemolymph, often referred to as the blood of the lobster.

Interesting facts:

Lobsters do not have vocal chords. Since this is true, they do not scream or vocalize when cooked. Any sound you hear could be that of air escaping from the lobster’s body cavity as it expands from heating.

The teeth of the lobster are in its stomach. The stomach is located a very short distance from the mouth, and the food is actually chewed in the stomach between three grinding surfaces that look like molar surfaces, called the “gastric mill.”

Besides the greenish-brown colored lobsters, there are also rare blue, yellow, red and white ones. Except for the white ones, they all turn red when cooked.

A freshly laid lobster egg is the size of the head of a pin (1/16″).

Lobsters “smell” their food by using the four small antennae on the front of their heads and tiny sensing hairs that cover their bodies.

No one has yet found a way to determine the exact age of a lobster. However, based on scientific knowledge of body size at age, the maximum age attained may approach 100 years. They can grow to be 3 feet or more in overall body length.

It takes 5 to 7 years for a lobster to grow to legal size in the ocean. A lobster at legal size will weigh approximately 1 pound.

– Courtesy of the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association.


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