Live Maine lobster

Consumer Information
and Facts About Maine Lobsters

Maine lobster is world-renowned for its exceptional flavor, due in part to the cold waters of the North Atlantic.

Here you will find information for where to buy Maine lobster, recipes and tips for cooking Maine lobster, and information about the sustainable practices of Maine lobstering.

Lobster FAQs

Click on a question below to reveal the answer.

Lobsters "molt", shedding their shells so that they can have room for growth the following year. This shedding usually occurs during July, revealing a new, soft shell underneath, thus the term "soft-shell". The new shell will harden over time and as the ocean water gets colder.

A lobster that has shed its shell has less meat inside than a hard-shell lobster of the same size. This also accounts for the lower prices for soft-shell lobsters.

Although there is less meat in a soft-shell lobster, many people prefer the taste of soft-shell lobster meat, considering it to be sweeter and more tender.

The net weight of the lobster meat depends on the variety and size of the lobsters used. Generally, it takes either 5 to 6 pounds of soft-shell lobsters or 4 to 5 pounds of hard-shell lobsters to make a pound of lobster meat.

Fishermen buy many different colored bands and use them as necessary. They do not use bands to mark different sizes. The color of the bands is meaningless.

Lobster fishermen in Maine may legally fish year round. However, most fishermen either do not fish in the winter, or they fish for other products such as shrimp and sea clams. Lobsters are least expensive in the summer when there are many people fishing, the lobsters are moving around more, and soft-shell lobsters are available.

Some lobsters have weighed as much as up to 35 to 40 pounds. It takes lobsters an average of 5 to 7 years (depending on the water temperature) to grow to legal size, and they grow more slowly as they get larger.

Estimates on large lobsters are varied because water temperature is such a big part of the equation. A 25 pound lobster's age has been estimated from 30-75 years.

Lobsters do not feel pain as we do. They have no cerebral cortex, which is the area of our brains that gives us the sensation of pain. Lobsters also have no vocal cords - the hissing sound that you sometimes hear when they are cooked is the sound of air escaping from their shells.

Lobsters have different pigments in their shells - just like people have different pigments in their skin - and display a variety of colors. In Maine, there are blue lobsters, yellow lobsters, red lobsters, and even spotted lobsters.

Usually, when lobsters are hard-shelled, their shells are a darker color. Also, when you cook hard-shell lobsters, their shells will turn a brick red color and sometimes even black, whereas soft-shelled lobsters, when cooked, are a bright red color.

This can vary from half an hour to 24 hours depending on a variety of factors: the type of lobsters (soft-shell or hard-shell), the time of the season, the temperature of the water at that time of year and your method of packing.

You can keep lobsters alive by putting them in the refrigerator or packing them in a cooler with ice packs to keep them cold. DO NOT put them in water unless it is re-circulating, refrigerated salt water - lobsters will die very quickly when placed in water. Also DO NOT pack them on freshwater ice unless you are able to keep the lobsters from coming into direct contact with the melt water.

If you're traveling through Maine and purchase live lobsters, we recommend you ask your Maine lobster purveyor at the time of purchase for their advice.


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