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by a Danish-Norwegian naturalist, 1 is inserted here to permit of comparison between these two
closely related forms, and to fill up some of the numerous gaps in the history of our own species.
The European Lobster is so similar to our own structurally that we are safe in assuming that
the habits of the two are in the main alike. In comparing the European with the American
species, however, it must always be borne in mind that the former never attains the extreme size
of the latter, and also averages smaller in size, while the female begins to spawn when only six
inches long, although at this size it may possibly be quite as old as the young spawning Amer-
ican female. There are so many important questions of practical value still unsolved regarding
the American Lobster, that the suggestions set forth by this Norwegian report may lead to their
proper investigation :

"The European Lobster seems to have its central location on the southwestern coast of
Norway, and goes as far north as Finmarken, where, according to Lem, in his description of the
Finmarkeu Laplanders, 1767, it is found north of Traenen, where he ate very fine ones on the
island of Rodo, while formerly their northern limit was thought to be the island of Brondo; but
he also thinks that they would be found in Finmarken, if people only searched for them. It is
very rarely found on the coasts of Iceland, where, according to Mohr's 'Islandske Naturhistorie,'
it has been found by Dr. Poulsen in Grondevig, but it does not extend to Greenland or Spitzbergen.
It does not go into the Baltic, but is found all over the Kattegat, especially near Anholt,
Hirsholmene, Laeso, and Hjelm, and, according to Mr. Fiedler's report, in the Great Belt as far
as Sprogo. On the coast of Bohuslan it is very common, and is said to go into the Sound as far
as the island of Hveen. On the west coast of Jutland, it is found wherever the bottom is stony,
and it is very common near Heligoland. It rarely goes into the inlets on our western coasts,
chiefly on account of their great depth. It is very rare in the inner portion of the Bay of Christi-
ania, and not very common in the Limfiord. On the coasts of England, Scotland, and Ireland, it is

1 A x KI. BOECK: Om det noreke Hummerflake og dets Historic. Copenhagen, 1868-'69.


common wherever there is a rocky bottom, especially near Montrose, Orkney, Lewis, and Harris
Island, and on the southern coast of England, near Land's End and the Scilly Islands. Near 'he
Channel Islands it is common, as well as near several groups of islands on the French coast. In
the Mediterranean it is not so common, although it is not entirely wanting; but its substitute as
an article of food is another large species of Cray-fish, the Langusta (Palinurus). It is, therefore,
not spread over a very large extent of sea; but it is found in its central locations in very large
numbers, and there becomes an important article of food and trade.

" Its general size is eight to ten inches from the point of the spine on the forehead to the tip
end of the tail. It rarely exceeds this size where large fisheries are carried on ; but now and then
specimens of a much greater size are found in places from which none are exported, and where it
consequently has time to grow before it is caught. Thus, Pontoppidan, in his 'Norges uaturlige
Historic' (part ii, p. 279), says that the very large Lobsters are called ' Storjer,' and that near
Utvaer, on the Bay of Evien, a Lobster had been seen which was so large and ugly that nobody
dared to attack it, and that it measured a full fathom between the claws. This seems certainly to
be somewhat exaggerated ; but I myself have seen the claw of one which must have been about
eighteen inches long. Sir John Graham Dalyell says, in his work ' The Powers of the Creator,'
1827, that he had seen a joint of the left claw of a Lobster that measured nine inches in length.
According to this, the whole claw must have measured eighteen to twenty-four inches, and the
whole animal three to four feet. As a general rule, those that are taken in the fiords are larger
than those that are caught near the islands toward the sea. The color of the animal when
alive is generally a blackish-green, with several blue spots ; but it may also be lighter, especially
near the mouths of fiords, while farther out toward the sea it becomes much darker. I may
mention as a curiosity that during this year (1868) I found a Lobster near Haugesuud, one-half of
which was of a greenish-black and the other of a light-orange color, there being a sharp and
clearly defined dividing line, which ran lengthwise, and divided the Lobster in two halves of
equal size.

"The Lobster lives close to the coast, where there is a rocky bottom, among the large algae;
but in winter, when the water grows cooler, it descends as far down as sixteen to twenty fathoms,
while in spring, when the temperature of the sea rises, it stays at a depth of from one to four
fathoms. It is altogether a coast animal, which very rarely seems to go any distance from its
birthplace, if it can readily find there a sufficient supply of food. Sometimes, however, they have
been seen in large masses swimming toward the land from the sea, and they have then been
Mil-Ill in nets, having been mistaken for a school of herrings; but this is only a consequence of
local migrations, when it goes from the deeper into the shallower waters. It is not able to make
its way through the sea for any length of time by swimming. Its structure certainly allows it to
make quick and definite movements, and it can swim freely about in the sea, but this swimming
never lasts long, as it cannot keep itself afloat very long. Neither is it able, while swimming, to
catch and swallow its food; but it seizes its prey only when it can hold on to something. At the
bottom of the sea it can chase its prey, if necessary, with great rapidity, but while eating it
remains quite still. The Lobster is a very greedy animal, and can swallow great quantities of
food, which it seems to find especially during the night by its scent, while during the day it keeps
quiet and digests. Its food consists chiefly of the roe of fish, and of dead fish, but likewise of
small crustaceans and other marine animals. When kept in confinement, it can live for a
considerable time without fowl. The Lobster seems to be able to propagate when it is a little
more than six inches long (at least, roe is only found in animals of this size) ; but when the
Lobster reaches a length of eight inches it contains a great quantity of roe. A real act of

i;m:i:i>ix(; IIAIMTS. so<

copulation takes plaee, the male Lobster placing its double male member into the outer genital
opening of the female; and the eggs are impregnated while they are yet in the ovary. This
pairing seems to take place from autumn to spring, or March aud April, for it is highly probable
that the roe is emitted from the ovaries immediately alter copulation lias taken place, just as with
otlu-r crustaceans ; and the emitted roe is found during the entire winter. After impregnation,
the eggs are emitted from the outer genital openings of the female, which are found at the bases
of the third pair of feet, but do not fall into the water, as they are held in a hollow which is
formed by the bent tail, which, both at the end and on the sides, has leaf-shaped fringes that
inclose the space formed by the bending of the tail. Under this tail there is fastened a double
row of the so-called tail-feet, to which the eggs are strung by strong, slimy strings. The embryo
now begins to develope in these eggs, which are quite numerous, two to three thousand in one
female, according to the size, and occasionally as many as ten to twelve thousand. The formation
of the embryo does not, however, seem to begin till the temperature of the water has become
milder in spring, even if the pairing should have taken place in autumn or winter; for, although
loose roe is often found in winter, it is never seen in any degree developed into embryos. This
pairing and the development of the roe seem to take place at different times on different portions
of the coast ; for the fishermen themselves, who have such an excellent opportunity of observing
them, are not agreed as to the actual time. The development of the embryo seems to take at
least fourteen days from the time of commencement, and it can easily be observed till the young
break the shells of the eggs and begin to lead an independent life. When the young Lobster comes
out of the egg it measures only a few lines in length, and does not at all resemble the old Lobster,
bat has a different structure. It does not leave the hollow under its mother's tail immediately after
being hatched, but lives there for some time, and later freqnently returns to it. It is particularly
distinguished by a less complete development of its feelers and tail-feet, and by the feet being
exceedingly small but furnished with long, brush like branches, with which it swims vigorously
on the surface of the water. After having spent some time in this state, it changes its skin several
times and assumes the shape of its mother, when it goes to the bottom. Its life from this moment
till it reaches a size of five to six inches is entirely unknown ; for no young Lobsters have been
caught, either by fishermen or scientists, the smallest having been found in the stomach of the
torsk, so that it is probable that they spend this portion of their life at a greater depth, and live
in a different manner and on other food than at a later period. There cannot, therefore, be any-
artificial hatching of Lobsters in the sense of artificial fish-hatching, but all that can be done is
to keep the Lobster imprisoned during the development of the eggs, and thus protect it from the
dangers which threaten it and its young. It is impossible to do anything for the tender young, as
they die very soon when confined. I see, however, that several persons in France, and Mr. von
Kris, in the lagoons of Triest, near Grado, have batched several millions of young by keeping
Lobsters with ripe roe at the bottom of the sea in perforated boxes.

"The greatest enemy of the Lobster, and one who sensibly diminishes its numbers, is man. When
swimming near the surface during its youth, with a number of other small crustaceans, it becomes
a welcome prey to the herring and the mackerel. As the grown Lobster keeps at no great depth,
and where large fish of prey are not commonly found, it is not much exposed to them, but
occasionally, when lying near the surface, it is taken by large birds of prey. An interesting scene
may be witnessed near Bukkeno, north of Stavanger, where an Englishman has constructed a
large pond, between some small islands, for keeping live Lobsters. Whenever the pond becomes
too full of Lobsters, so that they do not find sufficient food, they leave the water and crawl about


seeking to reach the sea; but during their wanderiugs they fall an easy prey to large numbers of
crows hovering round, which take them in their claws, fly high up, and let the unfortunate
Lobsters drop down on the rocks, where their shells are broken, so that the crows can eat them in
comfort. The crows are not easily scared away, but show a remarkable degree of sense, only
flying away when any one approaches with fire-arms, and later they carry on their depredations
in the early morning, when they have less to fear."

In addition to the above we have some interesting remarks on the natural history of the
European Lobster, from observations made by Prof. G. O. Sars, about 1875, and published in
1878, in a report on the " Salt-water Fisheries of Norway." In prefacing his remarks, Professor
Sars states :

" In order to judge of this matter (the protection required for the fishery) it is absolutely
necessary to have as complete a knowledge as possible of the natural history of the Lobster. But
in this respect very little progress has been made. Although the Lobster is one of the commonest
nidi inc animals on the coast of Europe, and has been made the subject of special investigations
by many naturalists, its mode of life is still involved in darkness."

Farther on he gives the following general accounts of its habits :

" As to its organization and its analogy with similar crustaceans, the Lobster must doubtless
be on the whole considered as a stationary animal. It never undertakes long migrations like
some of our fish. The Lobster certainly moves about with great swiftness and ease, aided by its
strong tail and the swimming apparatus attached to it; but this mode of moving about is
evidently not the rule. The hard-shell and ponderous Lobster must always make an extra
exertion in moving about, and its movements cannot, therefore, be of long duration. People
certainly talk of the so-called ' traveling Lobsters,' which are said to come from the open sea in
large schools ; and some even say that they have seen such schools many miles from the coast,
moving about rapidly near the surface of the sea. If this is really so, I consider it as absolutely
certain that these schools came from no very great distance, possibly from some of the elevated
bottoms off the coast. The grown Lobster is, as every lobster fisher will know, in its whole mode
of life a genuine bottom animal, and prefers a stony or uneven bottom, overgrown with algae,
where it finds good hiding-places for lying in wait for its prey. During summer and part of
autumn, the Lobster goes on higher bottoms in the bays and inlets, and is then frequently caught
quite near the shore among the alga?, at a depth of less than a fathom. Toward winter it again
retires into the deep ; and still later in the season it has almost entirely disappeared from those
places where it was quite common during summer. Occasionally, however, it is, even iu the
middle of winter, found in deep water, and I have reason to believe that the Lobster never leaves
our coast entirely, but considers it as its proper home.

" As may be judged from its powerful claws, the Lobster is a fierce beast of prey, that is
not satisfied with small marine animals, but occasionally attacks all kinds of small fish that are
unfortunate enough to come within its reach. The bait used for catching Lobsters consists
exclusively of fish, principally small codfish and herrings. These must, however, be tolerably
fresh ; as soon as they begin to get old the Lobster leaves them to his cousins, the Crabs, which
are less fastidious in their tastes, and they enter the baskets in great quantities.

"The Lobster is cautious and cunning. It never pursues its prey openly, but either
endeavors to surprise it, in which it is greatly aided by its very highly developed sense of smell,
or waits patiently among the algae till some marine animal comes within reach of its claws. I
have several times observed with what cautiousness and evident distrust the Lobster, attracted
by the bait, has gone round the traps and examined them several times on all sides, before it has



gone in. Only when it is very hungry, as is especially the case later in summer, after the spawning
season and r.istiug of the shell is over, is it loss cautious and more ready to enter the traps.

"The Lobster is best and (attest in the spring and early summer, while later in the summer
and autumn it becomes thin, in consequence of which the English will not take it during those

COMPOSITION OF LOBSTEUS. According to a series of careful analyses by Professor W. O.
Atwater, of Middletowu, Connecticut, the composition of the flesh of Lobsters is as follows, the
figures given indicating the average results obtained from three specimens received from the
coasts of Maine and Massachusetts :

Proportions of edible portion and shell : Per cent.

Total edible portion 39. 77

Shell 67.47

Loss in cleaning 2. 78

Proportions of water and dry substance in edible portion :

Water 82.73

Dry substance 17. 27

Chemical analysis calculated on dry substance :

Nitrogen 12.64

Albuminoids (nitrogen X 6.25) 78.37

Fat 11.43

Crude ash 10. 06

Phosphorus (calculated as PiO) 2. 24

Sulphur (calculated as SO,) i 2. 47

Chlorine 3.46

Chemical analysis calculated on fresh substance in flesh :

Water 82.73

Nitrogen 2.17

Albuminoids (nitrogen X 6.25) 13.57

Fat 1.87

Crude ash 1.74

Phosphorus (calculated as PC>5) -39

Sulphur (calculated as SO,) - 43

Chlorine 69

Nutritive value of the flesh of Lobsters compared with beef as a standard and reckoned at 100. 61. 97

The chemical composition of the flesh of the European Lobster is stated by Mr. Frank
Bnckland to be as follows:


Soft Internal





Nitrogenous matter




Fatty matter..... ...........................




Mineral mfttter.................. .......-




Non-nitrogenom matter and IOM..











In connection with this table, Mr. Bnckland makes the following observations:

"That phosphorus exists in large quantities in Lobsters may easily be proved. A Lobster in

hot weather, when it ceases to be fresh, assumes a highly phosphorescent appearance when seen

in the dark, equal, if not superior, to that of a glow-worm or luminous centipede. This light

increases by friction . . . and this phosphorescent appearance is probably caused by the


chemical changes in the organic tissues, when life is no longer present to resist the ordained
agency of decay and decomposition; in fact, it is a slow combustion by combination with oxygen.
"The presence of phosphorus in the Lobster is of great importance to the consumers of these
sea luxuries; there is no substance which conveys phosphorus so readily into the human system
in an agreeable form, and which the system so readily and quickly assimilates, as the flesh of
Crabs and Lobsters."


RELATIONS AND DISTRIBUTION. The so-called " Cray -fishes" or" Craw-fishes" are common
inhabitants of most of the fresh- water streams of the United States and Europe, but in this
country they are not eaten nearly to the same extent as in some parts of the Old World, and
they are not generally regarded here as a staple article of food.

The North American Cray-fishes, although belonging to but a single family, the Astacidce,
constitute two distinct genera, Astacus and Cambarus, and about thirty-eight species, three of
which do not, however, occur within the limits of the United States. The Cray -fishes bear a strik-
ing resemblance to the Lobsters (Homarus), to which they are closely related, but there are
several important structural differences between them, and none of the Cray-fishes grow nearly
as large as the Lobster.

Europe contains only three species of Cray-fishes, all belonging to the well-known genus
Antaeus. They are A. nobilis Huxley (fluviatilis), A. torrentium, and A. leptodactylus. Much
discussion has taken place among naturalists as to whether the above species are really distinct
from one another, or merely form varieties of a single variable species. The relations of A. nobilis
to A. torrentium are more marked than of those two forms to A. leptodactylus, but probably the
specific differences pointed out are as good as exist between many other unquestioned species of
the same group in this country. It matters little to us in this connection, however, what may be
the true affinities of these forms to one another, as long as we can define them sufficiently well to
speak of their relations to the fresh- water fisheries of Europe, as an introduction to our own species.

Astacus nobilis and A. torrentium are the edible Cray-fishes of Western Europe, and inhabit
fresh-water streams generally. They "are intermixed over a large part of Central Europe.
A. torrentium has a wider northwestward, south westward, and southeastward extension, being
the sole occupant of Britain, and apparently of Spain and of Greece. On the other hand, in the
northern and eastern parts of Central Europe, A. nobilis appears to exist alone. Farther to the
east a new form, A. leptodactylug, makes its appearance." 1 Those who have treated of the two
western species of Europe from a practical standpoint have generally spoken of them as a single
species, to which the old and well-known name of fluviatiUs has been applied. This distinction
corresponds with the views of the older European naturalists, and this species thus constituted,
with ite two or more varieties, is the common fresh-water Cray-fish of European literature, which
has come to have a world-wide reputation.

The structure of the Cray-fish can be best described by defining some of the principal
characters in which it differs from the common Lobster, according to Huxley. The general shape
of the body with its appendages and the general make-up of the two forms are very similar;
but the Cray-fish has only eighteen pairs of perfect gills or branchiae at the most, and the Lobster
twenty. "Moreover, the branchial filaments of these gills are much stiffer and more closely set"
in the Lobster than in most Cray-fishes. The most important distinction, however, is presented
by those gills which are attached to the bases of the thoracic limbs, and which number six pairs

'HUXLKY : The Cray-fish, 1880, pp. 299, 300.


in both the Lobster ami the Cray-fish. In the latter animals each of these gills forms a simple
Mem eiulin;: al>ove iu a plume and plate; in the former this "stem is, as it were, completely split
into two parts longitudinally, one half corresponding with the lamina (plate) of the Cray-fish gill,
and the other with its plume."

The shedding and the spawning habits of the Cray-fish correspond very closely with those
of the Lobster, iu connection with the description of which animal the subject has been discussed
at some length.

As stated above, the American Cray-fishes belong to two genera, Astacua and Cambarus, while
all the European speeies belong to the one genus Astacim. The only marked difference between
the two genera is this, that while iu Astacus there are eighteen gills on each side, in Cambarus
there are only seventeen. This difference in structure is considered to be of sufficient ini]x>rtauce
to warrant the formation of the two genera, but the external differences, such as the variation in
shape of the body, and in the proportionate sizes of the several external parts, which are more
apparent and more striking to the superficial observer, have only specific value. On such
ditierences as these are founded the thirty-two species of Cambarus and the six species of .(xt,i,-n><,
belonging to the North American fauna. More careful and detailed studies of large collections
of Cray-fishes from different parts of North America may serve to greatly reduce this number of
species, and if such should follow, it would simply go to prove that some of the differences now
sup|>osed to be of specific importance are merely varietal. Strangely enough, all of the North
American species of Attacks are limited to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains,
that is to say, to that portion of our country most distant from Europe; while the geuns Cambarus
is confined to the intervening area between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic coast. The
six species of Astacus are variously distributed through California, Oregon, Washington Territory,
and British Columbia, but only one species, A. nigrescent, appears to be used as food, at least to
any extent. This probably results from the fact that this is the only species found in the vicinity
of San Francisco, outside of which city there is little or no demand for this sort of food. Adult
individuals of this species exceed four inches iu length, and when living are blackish in color;
after death, however, they become of a light grayish tint. According to Mr. Lockington, of San
Francisco, this species is brought to that city only in small quantities, the demand for it being
slight. The supply is mostly obtained from Coyote Creek, Santa Clara County, and from the
sloughs of the San Joaquin.

The genus Cambarus is pretty generally distributed throughout the region east of the Rocky
Mountains. No Cray-fishes have ever been found, however, in the New England States, excepting
in the extreme western parts of Vermont and Massachusetts and in Central Maine, and ten years

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 134 of 146)