Thursday, October 8, 2015

Happy Lobster Day!

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared that October 8 is Lobster Day in the Commonwealth. Huzzah, this our kind of holiday! Gatherings are planned at the State House with lobstermen and their legislators. Members from the Division of Marine Fisheries as well as our own live American lobster (traveling with its informative minders, of course) will be there, too. Let's take this opportunity to touch on some of the fascinating facts about New England's favorite crustacean.

Colorful lobster shell mutations

Lobster Shell Colors
While most lobster shells are a mottled dark greenish brown, genetic mutations can turn up some wonderfully colorful varieties. Many of our colorful lobsters were hauled up from the depths by local lobstermen, who called us with their amazing finds. In recent years we've exhibited blue, orange, calico and bi-colored lobsters (who can forget the Halloween lobster!)

Pinchy's stark bi-color shell always draws attention during live animal presentations

Lobster Research
Lobster shell color is one of the topics that our researchers know a lot about here in our American lobster research facility. As Michael Tlusty explains in a video by the American Chemical Society, lobster shell color can be manipulated in the lab through diet. So many of the teensy crustaceans in our lobster nursery have bluish shells.

A youngster in the Blue Planet Action Center

Our researchers are also taking a careful look at lobster shell disease, which is caused by a bacteria that settles on the shells and causes unsightly blotches. The lobsters are otherwise healthy, but their disfigured shells make them difficult for lobster fishermen to sell. In order to study these topics, our researchers have become experts at rearing young lobsters—which means lots of tiny lobsters in the lab! [They even found a conjoined lobster larvae once!]

Michael Tlusty, Ph.D. holds a lobster in the research lab
Talk about tiny!

Lobster Fun Facts
And like all animals from our blue planet, lobsters are completely fascinating. Did you know lobsters communicate by peeing in each other's faces? Or that lobsters molt as frequently as every two weeks when they're young (less frequently when they get older)? Or that it takes about seven years for lobsters to grow large enough to land on your dinner plate?

Learn about lobster life cycles at our Lobster Nursery

Plan a visit to see lobsters large and small at the Aquarium. Buy a ticket online—no service charge. You might be surprised to find these bottom dwellers to be quite endearing!

Then head up to the Boulder Reef exhibit in the Gulf of Maine exhibits to meet this behemoth.

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