Commercial Fisheries News - September 1999

Inseminated female Lobsters

Sexually mature premolt female lobsters form a brief pair-bond with a hard-shelled male for molting and mating. The female chooses a mate and moves into his shelter where they live for a few days before and a few days after the female molts.

Sperm transfer takes place approximately 1/2 hour after the female sheds. After another half-hour, the male starts to eat the female's molt shell. Then, the soft-shelled female remains with the male while her shell starts to harden. The male protects her during this most vulnerable time.

After the female feels sufficiently strong, she moves out of the male shelter. She then feeds voraciously to build up and grow into her new shell. The enhanced appetite is one of the reasons new shell lobsters are so trappable.

Between the time of mating and the time of "egging out," the female is carrying sperm to fertilize her eggs. Many of these are v-notched females. It is important to be gentle with these lobsters because they are capable of re-absorbing their eggs instead of fertilizing them. To help protect soft-shelled v-notched females you can:

Those are some thoughts for taking care of broodstock and looking out for the future of the industry.

I'm not sure what we can do to make sure females can find suitable mates. The hard-shelled male must be of approximately the same size as the female because he lifts her up off the bottom and holds his legs around her to prevent crushing the soft-shelled female during sperm transfer. Are the females able to find appropriate mates? We need to find a way to answer that question!

Ask the Lobster Doc