Yesterday, a twenty-pound lobster named George was paroled from his buttery fate in a New York restaurant and returned to the ocean. Since the MSNBC article wasn’t satisfying (much like lobster without drawn butter), I have transcribed the conversation I had with myself while chewing it over (much like the tough tail meat of aged lobsters).
Was George really 140 years old?
Maybe, but according to the Lobster Institute, there’s no way to tell for sure. Since lobster shells don’t have yearly rings (like trees or mussel shells), age is estimated based on weight. And since lobster growth rate varies with changes in the lobster’s environment, like water temperature or food quality, weight is a pretty inaccurate way to guess. George is old, but 140 years? Who knows?
Would George have been tasty?
I don’t care, I want a giant lobster! What good is an antiquated crustacean, anyway?
Giant old lobsters like George keep the entire population going. Like in Hollywood, big lobsters produce exponentially more sperm or eggs than little lobsters. For example, 5-lb female produces 14 times more eggs than a 1-lb female. And the large aged lobster ladies make better quality eggs, too, with more delicious fat to sustain the babies.
That’s why the US coastal lobster fishery has an upper size limit – to let those big lobsters keep on keepin’ on making more 1-1/2 lb. numminess. George was caught off Canada, where there’s no upper size limit. (There’s also no upper limit in the offshore US fishery).
Now I’m hungry. Where can I buy the best most sustainable happy lobster?
Massachusetts. Maine might be known for its lobster ranching, but the ropes on their lobster traps kill and entangle critically endangered right whales (and there’s only 350 of them left) each year. The Massachusetts fishery uses ropes that sink to the bottom and stay out of the whales’ way. Check out the New England Aquarium’s Right Whale blog for more.
Thanks to adamooo for the George article and Jives for the right whale blog!