European lobster


European lobster

Taxobox | name = European lobster


image_width = 280px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Arthropoda
subphylum = Crustacea
classis = Malacostraca
ordo = Decapoda
infraordo = Astacidea
familia = Nephropidae
genus = "Homarus"
species = "H. gammarus"
binomial = "Homarus gammarus"
binomial_authority = Linnaeus, 1758
synonyms = "Cancer gammarus" Linnaeus, 1758 "Astacus marinus" Fabricius, 1775 "Astacus gammarus" Pennant, 1777 "Homarus marinus" Weber, 1795 "Astacus europaeus" Couch, 1837 "Homarus vulgaris" H. Milne Edwards, 1837

The European lobster ("Homarus gammarus") (possibly referred as crayfish) is a large European clawed lobster. It is difficult to distinguish from the American lobster ("Homarus americanus") — the best distinction is the geographical location, with the European lobster in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the American lobster in the western Atlantic, and by the lack of teeth on the underside of the rostrum of a European lobster [cite book |url=http://ip30.eti.uva.nl/bis/lobsters.php?menuentry=tekstsleutel&pagenum=12 |title=FAO species catalogue Vol. 13: Marine lobsters of the world. |author=Lipke Holthuis |date=1991 |publisher=FAO] .An easier distinction is that American lobsters are brown when uncooked and European ones are blue. Both are red when cooked.

Range

The natural range of the European lobster is the eastern Atlantic Ocean from the Lofoten Islands in northwestern Norway to the Azores and Morocco. It can also been found in the Mediterranean Sea west of Crete and in the northwestern parts of the Black Sea, but not in the Baltic Sea. It is rarely found deeper than 50 m, but can be found anywhere from the low tide mark to 150 m, on hard substrates made of rock or mud cite web |url=http://www.fao.org/figis/servlet/FiRefServlet?ds=species&fid=2648 |publisher=FAO |title="Homarus gammarus" (Linnaeus, 1758)] .

Life cycle

The European lobster is solitary, nocturnal and territorial, living in holes or crevices in the sea floor during the day. In the summer, lobsters seek mates, and these migrations are the peak time for lobster fishery. The eggs are then carried by the female for around eleven months, meaning that egg-bearing females may be found throughout the year. After hatching, the planktonic larvae are released. These spend approximately 2-3 weeks in the water column. They then settle out of the water column and burrow into the seabed where they spend approximately 2 years. At a carapace length of about 15 mm they leave their burrows for crevices in rocky substrate. The smallest lobsters to be encountered in lobster pots are around 15 cm long. Maturity (and minimum landing sizes) tend to be reached after 4-5 years.

The diet of the adult European lobster comprises mostly sea-bottom invertebrates such as crabs, molluscs, sea urchins, polychaete worms and starfish, but may also include fish and plants. When moulting, lobsters eat a greater proportion of sea urchins and starfish, as a source of calcium. Feeding is reduced in the winter because of the slower metabolic rate brought on by the lower sea temperatures.

ize

The European lobster is slightly smaller on average than the closely-related American lobster, "Homarus americanus", with a maximum recorded length of 1.26 m, and weights of up to nearly 19 kg. However, such giants are rarely seen, and lengths of 23-50 cm with weights of around 0.7 kg are typical. At the minimum catch size (a carapace length of 87 mm in the British Isles [cite web |url=http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1993/Uksi_19931178_en_1.htm |title=The Undersized Lobsters Order 1993] [cite web |url=http://www.gov.im/lib/docs/daff/minimumlandingsizes.pdf |title=Minimum landing sizes in the Isle of Man] ), European lobsters are estimated to be 5-7 years old, with the largest specimens being more than 50 years old.

Fishery

The European lobster is fished throughout its natural range, but on a smaller scale than the American lobster. Most of the fishery is carried out with lobster pots, baited with oily fish such as scad, or with pieces of octopus or cuttlefish. Although attempts have been made to run lobster farms, they proved to be unfeasible because of the lobsters' aggressively territorial habits. The FAO reported an annual catch of over 2,000 tons annually in the 1980s . Prices in 2001 were around 15 per kilogram of lobster meat.

References


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