Do Lobsters Lay Eggs?

Most people are familiar with how dogs, cats, and chickens reproduce. Right from small children sees picture books showing chickens hatching from eggs. There are some animals whose reproduction is not commonly discussed. One of these is lobsters. Most people would be baffled by the question of lobster reproduction. Do lobsters give birth to live young, or do they lay eggs?

Lobsters reproduce by laying eggs. The eggs are carried on the female’s underside for nine to twelve months. Each lobster egg is one-sixteenth of an inch, about the size of a ballpoint pen tip. Females lay between eight thousand to one hundred thousand eggs, depending on their size.

Lobsters are considered a delicacy in culinary circles, but about one hundred years ago, they were considered cheap meat for the poor. Lobsters are harvested in large numbers in coastal towns of the USA. It is critical to know how lobsters produce to protect this natural resource.

Do Lobsters Give Birth Or Lay Eggs?

Lobsters lay minute eggs roughly the size of a ballpoint pen tip or one-sixteenth of an inch. Female lobsters only begin laying eggs when they are approximately five years old.

The number of eggs laid by a lobster varies according to her size. A one-pound female lobster will lay about eight thousand eggs. A nine-pound lobster lays roughly one hundred thousand eggs.

Why Do Lobsters Lay So Many Eggs?

Any sea or land animal that provides food for predators usually has multiple young to ensure that the species survives.

Hatchling lobsters are vulnerable to being eaten by many marine species. Scientists estimate that out of fifty thousand hatchlings, only two lobsters will survive to adulthood.  

Does A Female Lobster Lay Eggs In A Nest?

Female lobsters do not lay eggs in a nest as birds do. They carry their eggs on their bodies for nine to twelve months. The eggs can be seen on the underside of the lobster attached to structures known as swimmerets near her tail. Female lobsters carrying eggs are called berried lobsters because the eggs look like clusters of berries.

The female keeps the eggs with her while she spends winter deep under the ocean to avoid the rough storms during this season. In early spring, she makes her way towards the shallower, warmer water in the ocean. She occupies a burrow in an underwater sandbank, waiting for her eggs to hatch. The warm water speeds up the development of the larva in the eggs for the last two to three months of the incubation period. 

What Do Lobster Eggs Look Like?

When a female lobster lays eggs, they are referred to as extruded eggs because they are pushed out of the body but remain attached to the female. As the eggs are extruded, the female uses a cement-like substance to attach the eggs to the swimmerets.

Newly extruded eggs are green to dark green and have a uniform appearance. They do not have eye spots. These eggs are seen on the female during the summer months after mating has taken place.

The female lobster can hold the seminal package from the male in her body until the conditions are ideal for the release of the eggs. When the female deems the environment is favorable, she releases the eggs, which are fertilized as they pass over the seminal package.

The next stage of development is known as the eyed stage and is divided into three phases.

During the first eyed phase, the eggs develop a black eye speck which is the beginning of eye development in the larvae. The eggs change to a greyish green with a clear two-tone color appearing on the eggs. The first-eyed phase occurs in the late fall of the year before the eggs hatch. 

In the second phase of the eyed stage, the eggs change to a purplish color, and small turquoise eyes can be clearly seen. The eggs in this stage are seen just before winter or in the early spring of the year the eggs hatch.

In the last developmental stage, the eggs show large turquoise eyes and are a reddish brown color. Just before hatching, there is a blue tinge to the eggs. Hatching occurs during the summer months and is dependent on favorable environmental conditions.

How Do Lobster Eggs Hatch?

The female lobster raises herself up on her legs and vibrates her swimmerets (or pleopods) when the eggs are ready to hatch. The movement of the water encourages hatching and disperses the larvae that have already hatched.

The eggs do not all hatch at once, and it may take several days or a few weeks for all the eggs to hatch. This biological adaptation allows as many larvae as possible to survive by spreading out their dispersal into the ocean.

The eggs hatch while they are still attached to the female. When all the eggs are hatched, the female lobster has a furry appearance on her abdomen from the leftover cement and eggs shells. She is called a spent egger at this stage.

Can You Eat Lobster Eggs?

Lobster eggs are called roe, just like fish eggs. Lobsters carry thousands of unfertilized eggs inside their bodies before extruding them.

The eggs can be eaten after being cooked. Lobster roe is usually black, but once cooked, they turn red. Do not eat the roe until they have turned red from cooking. Uncooked lobster carries a bacteria called vibrio vulinficus, which makes people very sick.

In most regions, it is illegal to capture and eat female lobsters that carry extruded eggs. Lobster fishermen will not capture female lobsters bearing eggs as it is counterproductive for their industry.

Although you can eat lobster roe, most people do not like the taste. Roe is sometimes used to make sauces and bisques.

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Lobsters lay eggs that are carried on the female’s body for almost a year. The eggs change appearance as they develop and prepare for hatching. Each lobster female produces thousands of eggs each season to ensure the species’ continued survival.