An icon of Atlantic Canada and New England, this bottom-dwelling species is prolific from Newfoundland south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Lobsters have a hard-shelled body, stalked eyes, tail and large pincers. These crustaceans start life as larvae and develop by regularly shedding their shell and growing a new, larger one. During this molting period, lobster hide in rocky, creviced habitat.
Live Atlantic lobsters are usually olive green or dark brown, although some are dusky orange or even bright blue. The size, colour and flavour of Atlantic lobster vary depending on the season, local habitat, water temperature, nutrients, feed and other ecological factors. Just as terroir gives wine its particular character, the natural marine environment—or “meroir”—of a region imparts unique qualities to local lobster.
To reach maturity, a lobster must defy remarkable odds. A female lobster spawns millions of eggs that hatch into free-floating larvae. The larvae are extremely vulnerable at this early stage since they are feed for many fish species. Only about one-tenth of one percent of the larvae survives to young adulthood. The transparent larvae molt four times over their first 10 to 20 days. As lobsters grow older, they molt less frequently, with adults molting three or four times a year. The process begins with the lobster growing a new soft shell underneath its old hard carapace. It then hides in a rocky crevice for protection, bends into a V-shape and shrinks its extremities. It withdraws from its old shell, sometimes even self-amputating a claw or leg in the process. The lobster will begin to regain its larger size and the new shell will begin to harden. Missing legs or claws will regenerate. It takes about six years for a lobster to reach a weight of 1.1 pounds (500 g). Atlantic lobsters may live as long as 100 years.
This fishery uses wooden and wire traps submerged on the seafloor to catch lobster. The traps attract lobster with bait and capture them live.