When most people think of lobster, they think of an expensive delicacy that belongs on the dinner plate. But there’s a lot more to this interesting animal than how they taste!
Lobsters are a part of the crustaceous family. This means that they’re shellfish just like crabs, shrimp, and even their freshwater cousins, the crawfish.
They can be found in every ocean across the world. They’re an important part of the ocean ecosystem that scavenge for their food along the seafloor.
They’re also an important part of the economy for fishermen in North America. Along North America’s Eastern coastline, dedicated lobster fishermen pull in catches every day. In 2020 alone, more than 96 million pounds of lobster were caught and sold!
The average-sized lobster tends to weigh 1.5-2 pounds. Their weight can vary greatly from one subspecies to the next.
The most common species people see on the menu is the Homarus Americanus, known as the American Lobster.
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Before we delve into the largest lobsters ever recorded, let’s take a look at how lobsters can grow so large.
One of the most unique things about lobsters is that they never stop growing. It doesn’t matter how old a lobster gets, they’ll never reach a maximum size.
This is because they produce a growth-inducing enzyme all their lives. This enzyme is called telomerase, and its production regulates when animals start and stop growing. Since lobsters never stop producing this enzyme, they never stop growing.
Another thing that contributes to the massive size of the lobsters featured here is their age. Since a lobster’s size is directly correlated to how old it is, you can bet that each of the lobsters on this list is quite old.
Maine Lobster 51.5 lb (23.36 kg)
At the top of our list is a lobster caught off the coast of Maine in 1926. Since this lobster was caught so long ago, there’s not a whole lot of evidence for its existence.
The only evidence that exists is an old photo showing the 33-inch long monster lobster draped across a lobster fishing trap.
Legend has it that this lobster was the largest ever caught, and the lobster was professionally mounted to be displayed in the museum of Charles Q. Eldredge.
Unfortunately, the mounted lobster was damaged on the way to the museum, and no other evidence of its existence remains.
Nova Scotia Lobster 44 lbs (20.14 kg)
In 1977 off of the coast of Nova Scotia a 44 pound American Lobster was caught by a professional lobster fisherman.
Thanks to more modern record-keeping techniques, the lobster was weighed officially and made the Guinness World Record holder for the heaviest marine crustacean. To this day, no lobster caught has been able to top this record-breaking 44 pounder.
The department of marine resources in Maine estimated that this lobster was likely over 100 years old. Don’t worry though, after he was measured and weighed, the lobster was released back into the ocean.
Cape Cod Lobster 34 lbs (15.4 kgs)
In 1974 the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association caught a lobster that stunned them enough to stop and take notice.
The large lobster was quickly nicknamed “Big George” and he weighed in at a whopping 34 pounds. From tip to tail, Big George was measured to be 2.1 feet long.
This lobster was the largest well-documented lobster ever caught until he was unseated by one that outweighed him by 10 pounds just 3 years later.
Unfortunately, not much more is known about the fate of big George, but thanks to lobsters’ impressive longevity, it’s possible he’s still out there today!
Cushing, Maine Lobster 27 lbs (12.25 kg)
In the cold Atlantic waters off of the coast of Maine, a shrimp boat crew caught the surprise of their lives when they pulled in their nets to find a 27-pound lobster they nicknamed Rocky.
The crew was amazed by the lobster’s size but knew that it was illegal to keep Rocky. Thanks to a law in Maine, all captured lobsters that are 5 inches long (from the eyes to the tail) must be released back into the wild.
Instead of returning Rocky to the ocean, the crew brought him to the Maine State Aquarium, where Rocky was weighed, measured, and photographed before being released back into the wild. Workers in the aquarium compared holding Rocky to holding a 3-year-old child.
The Bay of Fundy, Canada Lobster 23 lbs (10.4 kgs)
The crew that caught this behemoth didn’t give it a second thought and shipped him off to a restaurant called Jordan Lobster Farms in Long Island New York.
The restaurant owner, Steve Jordan, was shocked to receive a 23-pound lobster in his regularly scheduled shipment.
Steve Jordan admitted to receiving jumbo-sized lobsters over the years but had never seen anything quite like the 23-pound lobster he now owned.
Jordan was so impressed with the size and approximate age of the lobster that he decided he couldn’t allow it to be eaten.
The lobster was sent off to live out its days in the renowned Long Island Aquarium where he still resides.
Hempstead, New York Lobster 22 lbs (9.98 kgs)
This giant lobster has a different discovery story than the others on our list. “Louie” the lobster was a bit of a sideshow attraction at a restaurant called Peter’s Clam Bar in Hempstead, New York.
Louie was bought as a very large lobster, and continued to grow over the 20 years he was kept in captivity.
While Louie’s story might seem a bit sad, it does have a happy ending. Louie caught the eye of a customer who offered an exorbitant amount of money to make Louie his dinner.
The restaurant owner started to view Louie in a new light and decided to release him back into the wild to avoid Louie ending up on anyone’s dinner plate.
Newfoundland, Canada Lobster 20 lbs (9.07 kgs)
If you were paying attention to the news in 2008, then you may have heard about the next lobster on our list. “George” was caught in Newfoundland, Canada. Through a series of unfortunate events, he found himself in a restaurant in New York City.
Once discovered, George was put on display, and a compassionate customer contacted PETA about this extraordinary lobster.
PETA drummed up controversy over George and managed to catch the attention of international news networks.
For days, networks talked about the oversized lobster and speculated on his age. A professional was consulted and George was estimated to be close to 140 years old!
Upon learning this information, George’s short stay at the restaurant came to an end. PETA was successful in their campaign and George was released back into the wild.
Maine Lobster 20 lbs (9.07 kgs)
Along the coast of Maine in 2015, a lobster boat named The Big Dipper pulled aboard this 20 lb lobster. One of the crewmen decided to pose with the lobster and post his photo on social media.
The photo of the impressive catch was an internet sensation and the crewman explained that they frequently pull aboard oversized lobsters, but always release them back into the wild due to regulations that make keeping such giant lobsters illegal.
The captain of The Big Dipper stated his crew had pulled aboard lobsters just as big, and sometimes even bigger than the one pictured. He was surprised the lobster in the photo had caused such a huge online sensation.
South Florida Lobster 15 lbs (6.8 kgs)
Like a few other lobsters mentioned here on our list, “Larry” was discovered by a well-meaning restaurant owner when he received his seafood order in 2016.
Owner of the restaurant Joe Melluso was well aware that a lobster that size was likely close to 100 years old.
Thanks to the Melluso’s softhearted nature, Larry the lobster was shipped back home to Maine to be released into his natural habitat.
Do you find yourself wanting to know more about lobsters after reading about their impressive ability to keep growing? Check out some fun facts about lobsters below!
- Lobsters can not be grown commercially. Since they take so long to reach an acceptable weight for eating, it’s not economically feasible to farm lobsters.
- Lobsters can regrow claws, legs, and antennae. Their ability to regrow appendages has made them the focus of important medical studies.
- Lobsters don’t turn bright red until they are cooked. That’s right, you can find lobsters of almost any shade of the rainbow in the ocean, but none of them are the bright red you see on the shell after a lobster has been cooked.
- Lobsters can live for several days outside of the water. As long as there is adequate moisture in the air and temperatures are kept low, a lobster can slow its breathing and metabolism enough to survive outside of the sea.
- Lobsters take 7 years to reach one pound of weight. After 7 years, it’s estimated that they continue to gain a quarter of a pound each year for the duration of their lives.
- The larger a female lobster grows, the more eggs she can carry. A smaller lobster will have around 10,000 eggs, while a larger lobster can carry upwards of 100,000.
There’s no doubt that lobsters are one of the most impressive sea creatures when you consider their long lives and ability to reach stunning sizes!
Lobsters are being used to research anti-aging treatments for humans considering how unique their long lifespans are in the animal kingdom.
Lobsters are heavily researched throughout the medical community considering their ability to regrow limbs and resist a myriad of different diseases.
Next time you find yourself at a restaurant that serves lobster, take a look at the tank and see if you can identify any record-breaking lobsters that may deserve to be let loose!
And if you happen to visit the Long Island Aquarium, stop by and say hello to the largest lobster living in captivity today.