March 04, 2005

3/4 - Stupid Humans Kill Jumbo Lobster

Once upon a time, about a billion years ago, when I was a marine biology grad student, I was diving off Northeastern University's marine lab at Nahant, Mass. Down about 50 foot depth I saw what I thought was a car tire sticking out from under a rock ledge on the bottom -- it had the same arc of curvature as a tire. I grabbed it and pulled it out from under the ledge, and what came out was a gargantuan lobster. It was so huge that it didn't fight -- just seemed lethargic.

I swam him (turned out to be a male) to the surface and called to the guys in the boat, "MONSTER LOBSTER!" He eventually weighed in at 19 pounds. We put him in a tank in the lab and for two weeks took a vote on whether to eat him or send him back. Projections from lobster growth curves put his age at around 50 years. Aside from the fact that the meat of a lobster that large is like Goodyear tire rubber, it was also pointed out that large males do a disproportionately greater percentage of the mating, plus they probably have the best genes. So the vote was unanimous, after two weeks we tossed him back.

In contrast, twenty years later, some people this week proved they weren't quite as enlightened, and instead, after catching a similar sized lobster in Massachusetts (22 pounds -- maybe it was our old buddy!), decided it must go to a Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum, but before the hoopla could die down, the lobster died down, in Pittsburgh.

Nice job, dummies.



Posted by Randy Olson at March 4, 2005 02:08 AM