• Austin Pugh

Meet the Critters: The American Lobster



Drawing of the dorsal side of an American Lobster
Image Source: Freshwater and Marine Image Bank

OA Impact: Ocean Acidification has been found to negatively effect the American Lobster. The impacts are most pronounced in juvenile lobsters, which, when exposed to acidic conditions develop more slowly, have a shorter carapace length and higher death rates than lobsters growing in non acidic conditions.


Diet: The American Lobster is usually a scavenger but is also sometimes a predator, capturing its own prey. The lobster's diet consists mostly of crabs, snails, bivalves, fish, algae and other ocean plants.


Habitat: Fully grown American Lobsters like benthic sandy and muddy areas, with juvenile lobsters preferring more rocky areas (with more hiding places!). They can be found in areas like this all across the Atlantic shelf of North America. They spend most of their day in their burrows because they are nocturnal in their scavenging habits.


Predators: Eels, Crabs, Seals, Flounder, Cod, and other fish,


Geographic Distribution: The American Lobster can be found along the Atlantic coastal shelf of North America. Residing roughly between 54°N and 35°N these critters can be found from the Labrador coast in Canada all the way down to the coast of North Carolina in the USA. Click here to check out the distribution of these lobsters on our Map of Canada's OA Resources!

A plate of American Lobster shells is piled high after a meal
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Image by: Trougnouf

Critter Fun Facts:

These lobsters are usually solitary and spend most of their time alone. When they do come together as communities there is a social hierarchy among males, which determines which lobster gets to mate. This is communicated through chemicals that lobsters excrete. When lobsters meet each other more than once they recognize each other through these chemicals.

Lobsters that meet each other may have to be careful, because lobsters sometimes eat their own molted shell. Because of this they were thought to be cannibals, but this hasn't ever been observed in the wild. However, cannibalism of these lobsters have been recorded in captivity!

American Lobsters are a commercially valuable food product because their meat is a popular delicacy. It can take up to 5 lobsters to produce 1 pound of lobster meat due to the usual size of harvest. American Lobsters can get much larger than their typical harvest size, with the largest recorded weight for an American Lobster topping 45 pounds!


An American Lobster hides in it's burrow on the muddy seafloor
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Image by: Derek Keats

Linnaean Classification:


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Subphylum: Crustacea

Superclass: Multicrustacea

Class: Malacostraca

Subclass: Eumalacostraca

Superorder: Eucarida

Order: Decapoda

Suborder: Pleocyemata

Infraorder: Astacidea

Superfamily: Nephropoidea

Family: Nephropidae

Genus: Homarus

Species: americanus


Etymology: Homarus (from the French word "Homard" meaning lobster) americanus (originating from America)


Common Names: Northern Lobster, Maine Lobster, American Lobster, and Clawed Lobster


Past Names: None


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