6 incredible facts that will change the way you think about lobsters.

Beneath that hard shell there is a soft and sensitive side to lobsters that reveals we have much more in common with these ocean dwelling creatures than you might think! Read on to discover what scientists are learning about the lives of lobsters — and why they need our protection.
Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 11 March 2015

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Lobsters are sensitive creatures. A lobster sitting on a rock

1. Lobsters are sensitive creatures.

Despite their knight-like appearance, lobsters are actually sensitive and delicate animals. Although they can’t see or hear very well they do have an exquisite sense of touch, thanks to hundreds of thousands of tiny hairs that stick out from gaps in their shells. Lobsters are also sensitive to changes in temperature — detecting temperature shifts as small as one degree — which is partly why they migrate up to 160 kilometres every year to find the perfect breeding ground for their fragile young. This certainly puts death in a scalding pot into perspective.

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Lobsters 'smell' with their feet! Image of a lobster on the hand of a person

2. Lobsters ‘smell’ with their feet!

Contrary to what we see in cartoons, lobsters use their claws for much more than just pinching! Lobsters can be left-‘handed’, right-‘handed’ or ambidextrous, and have several receptors on their claws and their legs, which they use to locate and recognise any food that is around them.

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Lobsters feel pain. And just like us, they can learn to avoid it.

3. Lobsters feel pain. And just like us, they can learn to avoid it.

Indeed lobsters are not only able to feel pain, scientists have also discovered that crustaceans can learn to anticipate and avoid pain — a reasoning historically thought of as a trait unique to vertebrates (animals with backbones, including us).

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Lobsters can't go into shock.

4. Lobsters can’t go into shock.

When other animals, including humans, experience extreme pain, their nervous system may shut down as a coping mechanism. Zoologists have found that lobsters and other crustaceans don’t have this ability to go into ‘shock’ so when they are exposed to cruel procedures (such as having their claws or ‘tail-meat’ torn off or being boiled alive) — their suffering is prolonged.

The lobster does not have an autonomic nervous system that puts it into a state of shock when it is harmed. It probably feels itself being cut. ... I think the lobster is in a great deal of pain from being cut open ... [and] feels all the pain until its nervous system is destroyed.
Jaren G. Horsley PhD.
Invertebrate zoologist

Scientists have found that it can take lobsters between 35 – 45 seconds to die when plunged into a pot of boiling water — and if they are dismembered their nervous system can still function for up to an hour.

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Lobsters seek out 'safe spaces' when stressed

5. Lobsters seek out ‘safe spaces’ when stressed

Every year, millions of lobsters meet their fate in a cooking pot. It’s enough to make any lobster anxious … and yes, new research has revealed crustaceans may experience anxiety — considered a complex emotion — in much the same way humans do. And they react to it just like many of us, too — by seeking out a safe space! French researchers have even discovered that stressed crayfish (a relation to lobsters) react positively when dosed with anti-depressant drugs — the very same ones used to treat anxiety in humans.

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Lobsters never get 'old'!

6. Lobsters never get ‘old’!

Well, not in the human sense of the word! The perfect example of ‘ageing gracefully’, lobsters don’t seem to suffer from any decline in strength or health and can just keep on keeping on, with adult lobsters retaining the vitality of youth and able to regrow limbs even at a century (or more) old!

The fact that lobsters are voiceless in the human understanding of the word doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to what scientists are telling us about them. It is clear that lobsters are unique creatures who have social bonds, feel pain and anxiety, and experience life in many of the same ways that we do. Now, more than ever, it’s time to recognise that these extraordinary animals are as equally worthy of the care and protection we give to our household companions.

Lobsters, crayfish, crabs, prawns and other marine animals are the often forgotten and silent victims of the fishing and ‘seafood’ industries. But you can help these animals who are just as deserving of compassion. And the good news is, we all have the power to take a stand against animal cruelty, starting today.

Reducing or replacing animal products in our meals is not only the most profound way to reduce animal suffering, it’s also best for the planet and for us as well. Eating plant-based is easy, delicious and it’s getting more popular, every single day.

Keen to find out more? You’ll find all the information you need, plus a selection of delicious recipes, in our free veg starter kit! Order your copy here. Or if you’re ready to get cooking right away, then you might like to browse our collection of 100+ scrumptious plant-based recipes at VegKit.com!

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