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.  

Unlike many other aquatic species, American lobsters reproduce via internal fertilization. A pair will mate in a rocky shelter during the summer, during which the male will turn the female over on her back and transfer his sperm into the female using his pleopods. He will then flip her back over and stay with her for a few days, before heading off again. 

The female will store the sperm for several months, with some females keeping the sperm for over a year. After this time, the female will excrete her eggs, which stick to her pleopods, where she will then fertilize them with the stored male’s sperm.  She will keep her tail tucked up her, carrying and protecting the eggs for almost a year, after which she will lift her abdomen and flick her tail to release the microscopic lobster larvae. 

The larvae are typically released between May and September, and will float around in the water column with other phytoplankton and zooplankton, molting several times before reaching the juvenile stage between three and 12 weeks after hatching, depending on water temperature. At this point in time they will chose a spot to settle on the ocean floor, and will find a suitable shelter to live until they reach maturity.