The European lobster is dark blue with cream or yellow spots above, with the underside a more uniform yellow colour. Both sexes have two claws, one designed for crushing while the other is used for cutting.
Lobster fishing is one of the most traditional fisheries along the coast of Ireland. Many small vessels fish all around the coast due to the nutrient enriched waters where our lobsters live and breed in.
The fishing season usually runs from March through to October depending on the weather, but can also take place all year round in sheltered bays. Lobsters have traditionally been fished using pots or creels, which originally varied in shape and size from area to area around the coast. Over the years as lobster fishing has developed, a standard pot design has evolved which is D-shaped in section and made from steel rods covered in netting and protected with rope or rubber strips.
Lobsters can live for at least 20 years and possibly for up to 40 years or more. The minimum landing size for lobster is 87mm carapace length. Lobsters which are this size or over are generally between 4 and 8 years old.
Lobsters grow in size by moulting or shedding their shell on a regular basis. The soft-shelled but larger lobster which emerges after each moult then hides until the new shell hardens. Moulting cannot occur when the female lobsters are carrying eggs, as the moulting process would cause the eggs to be lost.
Mature female lobsters can carry up to 30,000 – 40,000 eggs depending upon their size and age, with the oldest and largest females carrying the most. The colour of these eggs will give a good indication of the development stage of the eggs. The eggs are black when first laid and gradually change to light brown with a clearly visible black spot, known as an eye, to a bright orange, when the eggs are ready to hatch.
Hatching usually occurs between May and September with a peak in June and July depending on water temperature. The hatched larvae spend 4 to 6 weeks in the water column before moulting into a final stage. They then start to seek out a suitable rocky bottom habitat to settle into and develop into juvenile lobsters.