Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Homarus gammarus and H. americanus, the outstanding crustaceans of N. Atlantic waters (see illustration). The two species are very similar; the situation is that what is essentially the same creature, the lobster, has developed in slightly different forms on the two sides of the N. Atlantic, and the differences have been judged great enough to warrant classifying them as two species, not one. One difference is that the American lobster grows slightly larger than its European brother. It is, however, difficult to give maximum dimensions. In the past, before the lobster fisheries became intensive, some lobsters lived to a great age and attained extraordinary sizes. For example, one which was taken off the coast of Virginia in the 1930s was well over a metre (39") long and weighed about 20 kg (45 lb). Nowadays a lobster half that size would be considered a giant. Some would say that lobsters weighing more than 1 kg (2.2 lb) are too tough to be at their best.