Lobster


Lobster -

A fish of the crab species which is rated by many people as the most delicate and delicious of all sea food. In addition to its consumption fresh, its meat is canned in immense quantities, the smallest of the catch retained being generally used for the purpose.

Lobsters weighing from fifteen to twenty pounds are not uncommon. It is the weight for size that indicates the quality - a large, light specimen is never as good as one smaller but heavier in proportion. A nine-inch lobster generally weighs about one pound.

Lobsters are preferably sold alive, so that there can be no doubt as to their freshness, and the use of improved shipping packages makes it possible now to deliver them alive and in good condition to almost any part of the country, but large quantities are boiled as caught and thus shipped.

The enormous consumption and the difficulties experienced in safeguarding natural propagation have resulted in a steady diminution of the supply, but energetic measures are being taken by the Government to offset the conditions, and in the United States "Sea Nurseries" artificial propagation has already proved so successful that it is reasonable to hope for a long and large supply for the future. One of the most difficult problems is to prevent the baby lobsters from destroying each other, their cannibalistic tendencies making doubly arduous the care required to raise them.

The lobster of the Atlantic Coast is distinguished from others of the family by its immense claws. The native "spiney lobster" of the Pacific Coast, and the Cuban and French lobsters have no claws, but are characterized by their "horns," or remarkably well-developed antennæ.

On the Atlantic Coast, lobster fishing is conducted all the way from Labrador to Delaware, but the coasts of Maine and Nova Scotia are the most fruitful sections. Nova Scotia is also noted for its large canneries.

Lobsters hug the shores of rocky coasts during the summer and are then more easily obtained than in the winter, when they go farther to sea. They are caught by means of "pots" or traps - box-like affairs, averaging four feet long and two high, made of laths or iron bars. The entrance, on the end, is funnel-shaped and of netting or wood, so formed as to make ingress easy, and egress practically impossible. The pot is baited with fish, weighted and sunk to the bottom of the lobsters' feeding ground, generally about a half mile from shore, its location being marked by a buoy bearing the owner's name. The fisherman empties the pot through a door at the top, and throws back into the water the lobsters under the legal size - which is regulated by state legislation and varies from time to time.

It is estimated that but two lobsters out of every ten thousand reach maturity, but to counteract this alarmingly small percentage, a ten-inch lobster produces about ten thousand eggs at a time, and doubles her product with every additional two inches of length. The young lobster casts his shell four times before the characteristics of the adult are assumed, and until the fifth change, which is reached at the age of from three to six weeks, it remains near the surface of the water and is destroyed by the million, both by storms and surface-feeding fish. After this period, its habitat is the bottom of the sea, where it feeds principally on fish, alive or dead indifferently. It grows only during, or immediately after, its annual moulting or casting of its shell, but at that time the rapidity of its development is wonderful.

Lobsters are very voracious in their habits, and frequently have very animated combats among themselves, during which one of the combatants is reasonably sure to lose some part of a leg or claw - another member grows in its place, but it is always smaller than the original.

Shellfish, and especially lobsters, afford more phosphorus than any other food. They are perhaps, unconsciously, on this account much eaten by the nerve-racked workers of the great cities.


Arround Lobster in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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