Hatching and Dispatching Lobsters

20 May


The National Lobster Hatchery was established in Padstow in 2000 and its aim is to conserve wild populations by releasing baby lobsters back in the sea. They do this by raising them through their first vulnerable stages in captivity. The fishermen bring in the pregnant female lobsters where they are raised in safety before being released back into the sea.

Some interesting lobster facts:

Lobsters do not have vocal chords. Since this is true, they do not scream when cooked. Any sound you hear could be that of air escaping from the lobster’s body cavity as it expands from heating.

The teeth of the lobster are in its stomach. The stomach is located a very short distance from the mouth, and the food is actually chewed in the stomach between three grinding surfaces that look like molar surfaces, called the “gastric mill”.

Besides the greenish-brown colored lobsters, there are also rare blue, yellow, red and white ones. Except for the white ones, they all turn red when cooked.

A freshly laid lobster egg is the size of the head of a pin (1/16″).


A 2 lb. female lobster usually carries approximately 8000 eggs. A 9 lb. female may carry more than 100,000 eggs. The female carries the eggs inside for 9 to 12 months, and then for another 9 to 12 months externally attached to the swimmerets under her tail.

When the eggs hatch, the larvae will float near the surface for 4 to 6 weeks. The few that survive will settle to the bottom and continue to develop as baby lobsters. From every 50,000 eggs only 2 lobsters are expected to survive to legal size.

Lobsters “smell” their food by using the four small antennae on the front of their heads and tiny sensing hairs that cover their bodies.

No one has yet found a way to determine the exact age of a lobster. However, based on scientific knowledge of body size at age, the maximum age attained may approach 100 years. They can grow to be 3 feet or more in overall body length.

It takes 5 to 7 years for a lobster to grow to legal size in the ocean. A lobster at legal size will weigh approximately 1 lb.


The Lobster Hatchery is near Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip Shop on South Quay and is open throughout the year from 10am.