Let’s Talk About….. Lobsters By Degree

In April 2023, I was blessed to take a deep dive into the history, geography, geology and culture of the far northeast corner of America,  the Canadian Maritimes and the St. Lawrence River and Seaway. Con su permisio, as they say in Spanish, I would like to share with you some of what I learned in these blog posts over the next couple of months. Hope you benefit and enjoy!

“Everything about lobsters depends on temperature!” taught David, the history presenter on our ship. He then explained that in the day, lobsters were so plentiful off the coast of New England that prisoners complained that they not be fed lobster more than three times a week! William Bradford wrote: “The best dish they present to us was a lobster without bread or anything and only a glass of spring water.” But they soon became looked down upon and fed to prisoners. By the mid-1800s, lobster in New England was cheaper than chicken so the turn-around began. 

Lobster must be cooked in boiling water, 212o F.  The perfect temperature for a cooked lobster tail is 140o. 

Lobsters must be kept alive for once dead they spoil rapidly. Temps between 32o and 40o is the water temp ideal for keeping lobsters alive during shipment. And they are shipped around the world. (And you wonder why lobster is so expensive?)

Optimal seawater temp for lobsters is 59o; waters of this temp are found in the Atlantic from Labrador to Cape Cod. Lobsters are cold blooded and lobster larvae grow proportional to temperature. If the temp is just right, they grow rapidly and when mature enough the floating larvae sink to the bottom to grow up. It takes 7-8 years to grow a mature lobster. They are cannibalistic so farming them does not work. (And you wonder by lobster is so expensive?)

If the water temp rises to 68o (or above) the lobster experiences “psychological stress” (taught David). The Gulf of Maine has warmed faster lately than 99% of the world’s waters (taught David). So as the southern water warms, the lobsters migrate north into colder water and the fisherman must move with them.  David said that a 7.7o temperature rise in bottom ocean waters is expected by the year 3000…………what will Maine do?

Anyone who visits Maine likely craves Lobster Roll sandwiches the rest of their life; I know I do. Fairly expensive, a typical “roll” contains one pound of lobster meat. I can taste it even now!!