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A Lobster's Life on the bottom: from egg to adult

The year 2021 was a record year for Canadian lobster exports. The value of Canadian lobster exports topped $3.2 billion last year — the highest ever and more than $700 million higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to new trade data.

As Canada's most lucrative fishery, it play a significant role in the economies of the east coast provinces. Its critical that Atlantic Canadian lobster and their habitat are safeguarded from the impacts of open net-pen finfish farms. Net-pen operations are located inshore, within coastal bays, and usually tucked behind an island or peninsula - the same areas where lobster fisherman place their gear for protection from storms and the same grounds where lobster nurseries thrive.

Do you know how many years it take for a lobster to reach adult market size? Here's a great overview of the evolution of a lobster's life from egg to adult, from DFO Canada, and shared from the Atlantic Canada Seafood Group.


A Lobster’s life on the bottom

Lobster Eggs

1. An adult lobster can lay up to 100,000 eggs, depending on the size of the female. The female carries her fertilized eggs externally under her tail, attached to her swimmerets, for a period of 9 to 12 months. At this point, her eggs are the size of a grain of rice, dark green in color, and have an irregular shape. In Canadian waters, eggs are hatched between June and September, depending on water temperature.

Stage One Larva

2. After hatching, prelarvae are attached to the female. They molt shortly thereafter, and the stage one larvae are released and swim into the water column, to within a few centimetres of the surface; and this is where stage one of the planktonic larval phase begins. The larvae are somewhat protected from predators because they are transparent in color and about the size of a pea.

Stage two and three larvae

3. In stage two and three of the planktonic larval phase, the lobster is about the size of a thumbnail. At stage three, larvae have a fully developed tail fan. Since the larvae are not particularly capable swimmers, much of their movement is controlled by wind and water currents. All stages of the lobster grow by molting; a process in which the old, hard shell is cast off and completely replaced with a new one.

Young Lobster

4. In the postlarval stage, the lobster settles to the bottom of the ocean and finds shelter. Young lobsters prefer an inshore habitat of rocks, reefs or grass beds, remaining hidden there for the first years of life. At this stage, the lobster looks like a smaller version of an adult lobster.

Early bottom phase lobster

5. In the early bottom phase, lobsters are mostly shelter restricted. Although they have developed the ability to move their tail effectively, their overall movement is limited. As they grow larger they begin to move outside their burrows looking for food.

Adult Lobster

6. Lobsters reach adulthood within five to seven years, depending on water temperature. They spend most of their time alone in their shelters. Adult lobsters are most active after sunset, when they leave their shelter in search of food. The male and female lobsters form a bond before and during mating process. The female first molts in the shelter of the male, mates with him, and stays with him for a few days. She later moves on her own, gorging herself on food while her new shell hardens. The eggs typically hatch approximately two years after molting/mating.

View the original source and images of the various stages here.


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