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How can one tell if a boiled lobster was alive when cooked?

Upon the death of a lobster the tail loses its elasticity and ability to curl under the body. When plunged into boiling water, a live lobster curls its tail under. It remains in that position during and after cooking.

Have people been poisoned by eating lobsters that were allowed to die before being cooked?

lobster pot Is it true that a dead lobster deteriorates very rapidly?
What happens when a live lobster is frozen?

Lobsters are not poisonous if they die before cooking, but cooking should not be delayed. Many lobsters sold commercially are killed and frozen before cooking. Lobsters and other crustaceans do spoil rapidly after death, which is why many buyers insist on receiving them alive. If the lobster is "headed" before or soon after death, the body meat will keep fresh longer. This is because the so-called head includes the thorax, the site of most of the viscera and gills, which spoil much more rapidly than claw or tail meat. Freezing slows deteriorative changes and harmful chemical actions that follow death.

Is it possible to raise lobsters on a commercial basis?

man in skiff setting lobster pot

Not yet, but research is underway to develop rearing techniques and to assess the economic feasibility of rearing the American lobster commercially. In the opinion of many scientists working with the American lobster, commercial aquaculture can be achieved in the near future with a sufficient level of effort. Future projections for the culture of the spiny lobster are not, however, optimistic. Unlike the American lobster which has a relatively short larval life (several weeks), the spiny lobster has a larval life of about six or seven months. The technical difficulties presented by the fragile, demanding requirements of the early life stages discount the use of traditional hatchery methods with any degree of success or practicality.

Have Maine lobsters been successfully transplanted to the west coast?

Attempts have been made to do so, but success has been limited. The Canadian government discontinued in mid-1973 a six-year-old experiment in which the lobsters were reared successfully in the waters off British Columbia. The decision to drop the project was evidently dictated by economics.

I've heard that lobsters molt, but I've never seen a cast-off shell. Why?

After molting, lobsters will eat voraciously, often devouring their own recently vacated shells. This replenishment of lost calcium hastens the hardening of the new shell which takes about 14-30 days from the actual loss of the old shell.

Can crabs swim?

Most crabs "walk" or run across the ocean bottom. Some, such as the commercially caught blue crab of the Atlantic coast (a member of the one family of "swimming crabs") can swim. Their rearmost pair of legs is modified for swimming and legs are paddle-shaped .
blue crab

How do crabs grow?

By shedding their outgrown shell. The rigid shell imprisons the crab and limits growth. Once the shell is shed, the crab can absorb water and expand into its newgrown shell.

Blue Crab images courtesy of "Regulatory Fish Encyclopedia, Office of Seafood and Office of Regulatory Affairs, Food and Drug Administration, 1993-1996."

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