Northern Lobsters of Maine | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

In the north Atlantic, the American Lobster is the undisputed king of crustaceans. It’s also a tremendously important commercial catch. While all the other fisheries are collapsing, why are lobsters resisting the trend? Jonathan goes out with a Maine lobsterman to learn why, and he dives down below to find the biggest lobsters he has ever seen. This segment won a New England Emmy Award!

(This is an HD upload of the same segment posted previously in SD)

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The American Lobster may not look all that tasty, but this large crustacean that was once considered a nuisance by catch is now considered a delicacy around the world.
Although they are shipped to restaurants everywhere, they come from the cold waters of the North Atlantic, mostly from New England and Eastern Canada.

I want to find a really big lobster, so I’ve come to Eastport, Maine, right on the Canadian border to hunt for a monster!

I’m wearing my super warm drysuit, to search for lobsters in the cold 50-degree water.

Lobsters hunt at night, so they like to hide in holes in the rocks during the day.
This is what you normally see of a lobster during the day—just a couple of claws sticking out of its den.

With some gentle prodding, the lobster will come out to defend its turf. Lobsters are extremely territorial and often fight each other for prime dens.
I have to be very careful of the claws. If this lobster gets hold of my hand or fingers it can easily break them.

Note that this lobster has a larger claw on the left side. This is called the crusher claw. The other is the pincher or ripping claw. The crusher claw tells us this lobster is left-handed…er—clawed.

When a lobster gets this big, it demands respect!

Maine is the lobster capital of the US, and Boothbay harbor is one of the most popular places to visit if you want a fresh lobster dinner.

Outside MSA It’s also the home of the Maine State Aquarium, where I’m learning a little bit about the life cycle of lobsters.

I’m venturing behind the scenes in the Bigelow Laboratory where they conduct research on lobsters.

Researcher Aimee Hayden-Roderiques introduces me to some of the unusual lobsters in their collection.

Now most lobsters are not red – that’s the color they are when they’re cooked. In the wild, lobsters are more this color, sort of an olive-y color, maybe with a little bit of green and some orange. Now, every once in awhile, however, you’ll come across a lobster that looks like this. This blue coloration is an extremely rare pigmentation found one in every three million lobsters. And I have to say, they are cool!

Now, if you want to talk about rare genetic variations, this one takes the cake. This one is called a bi-color lobster and you can see that the color is divided right down the middle, one side’s blue and the other side’s kind of a pale yellow. These bi-color lobsters are so rare only one in every 100 million of these are born this color. That is one rare lobster.

This female lobster has something very special going on. If you look underneath her tail, it’s full of eggs. The female incubates thousands of eggs under her tail for up to a year before they hatch, and then when it’s time for them to hatch, she releases the eggs out into the water, they hatch with little larvae that swim off into the water to become planktonic lobsters.

A few hundred years ago, lobsters were incredibly abundant.

Back then, lobsters were considered cheap food for poor people. How times change!

Lobstermen catch lobsters using a simple trap, the design of which hasn’t changed much in a hundred years.

The coast of Maine is ruggedly beautiful, but the inshore areas are a labyrinth of lobster buoys, each connected to one or more traps.

Todd checks each trap for “keepers” – that is lobsters that are legal size and throws back the shorts and other by-catch like crabs. Because this is done by hand, none of the short lobsters or by-catch is harmed.

In the next trap, Todd finds a female lobster with a notch in her tail. The V-notch was put here by a fellow lobsterman so that everyone will know she’s a good breeder, and let her go. This is how lobstermen protect the future of the industry by ensuring that there are always lots of egg-laying females out there.

My time as an apprentice lobsterman taught me how hard these guys work for a living, and I also learned how efforts like V-notching have made lobstering one of the few fisheries that really makes an attempt to ensure the long-term viability of the species.

Author: editor

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