American Lobster | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

American Lobster

Homarus americanus

Also known as

Atlantic lobster, true lobster, lobster


Temperate waters of northwest Atlantic, from Labrador to North Carolina


Rocky reefs

Feeding Habits

Foraging predator

Conservation Status

Not listed


Order Decapoda (crayfish, crabs, lobsters, shrimp); Family Nephropidae (clawed lobsters)


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American lobster, unlike most invertebrates, have teeth. However, these teeth aren’t located in their mouths – they are in their stomach. Their stomach chews food using what looks like molars, called a “gastric mill.” Lobster has not always been a sought-after seafood, in fact, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was so cheap that Americans used it as lawn fertilizer and fed it to prisoners and indentured servants. In Massachusetts, some servants fought against this by having it added to their contracts that they would not be feed lobster more than three times a week.  

American lobsters are the largest crustacean in the world by weight, growing to lengths of around 80 centimetres and weighing more than 18 kilograms. Like all other crustaceans, they have a hard exoskeleton, or outer shell. The exoskeleton of American lobsters is a dark, rusty brown to olive green and is flecked with red, orange and black. However, there are rare cases of bright blue lobsters, bright green, or others that are perfectly divided down the middle with different colours on each side of their body. 

They will molt this exoskeleton many times during their lifetime, growing a new one underneath the old one until it becomes so large that it splits the existing exoskeleton and sheds it off. They are a decapod, meaning they have 10 legs, including their large front claws, called chelipeds, two pairs of antennae, and five pairs of feathery-like structures under their abdomen and tail, called pleopods, which help with movement of water and are used for reproduction and carrying of eggs. They have poor eyesight but a well-developed sense of taste and small.