The key to the successful hunt of an animal is a solid understanding of the habits, quirks and behavior of your particular quarry. With lobster season starting soon, the focus for underwater seafood hunters will shift to these crustaceans that avid stalkers call “bugs.” Here are some facts (and some observations that may not be “facts,” per se) to help you in the upcoming lobster season, or at least better appreciate this odd quarry.
Their jaws are powerful and, particularly with larger specimens, can inflict a powerful pinch. Keep your hands away from their mouths, especially when they are angered by being shoved into a game bag!
CALIFORNIA SPINY LOBSTERS DO HAVE CLAWS
But only the females. They are tiny on their rear legs and are used for tending their eggs which are carried under their tails. This is one way of identifying the sex of a lobster.
BOY OR GIRL? LOOK UNDER THE TAIL
The rear legs are not the only clue as to the sex of the lobster. Females also have larger spines and flaps on the tail for holding the eggs in place. The spines on the tail are important to the hunter because these are very sharp and to be avoided. If you grab the lobster by the tail, the lobster will curl its tail under in its attempt to swim away and puncture you with the spines.
LOBSTERS ARE STUPID, CURIOUS AND HIGHLY REACTIVE
In spite of the joke that lobster read calendars and know when the season starts, they really are quite dumb. And they are curious. Often, when you approach a hole that houses a lobster or two they will move outward to investigate this odd bubble-blowing animal. At the same time they will react very quickly if they feel in any way threatened. The best technique should be a rapid, one-motion swoop-in for the pin on the back. Do not hesitate.
LOBSTERS WILL “LOCK UP” IN A HOLE
Once a lobster is backed into a hole it will push down with its legs, forcing its spiny back into the roof, effectively locking the lobster in place. If you can get a hold of the base of the antennae (not the antennae, as these will easily break off), give the lobster violent shake. They have a small grain-like structure in their brain that tells them up from down, and shaking them will disorientate them, allowing them to be easily pulled from the hole.
THEY MOVE AROUND—A LOT
Not only do they move from hole to hole, but sometimes several miles across the ocean floor. Nobody knows exactly why, nor is it scientifically proven, but divers have witnessed the movement. Besides, how else can a reef be devoid of lobster one week and full the next?
They also move from shallow to deep water and back again. There are several reasons for this. Just before the opening of lobster season, in late summer, females move into shallow waters to broadcast their eggs into the currents. Also, lobsters are temperature sensitive. They prefer warmer shallow waters. In spite of this, they will generally move into deeper water in the winter when the shallows become too rough to reside in during storms.
“FREEZE” A LOBSTER WITH YOUR LIGHT
Lobsters are nocturnal, moving about at night to forage for food and migrate. Consequently, night diving is an excellent way to hunt bugs. As you scour the bottom with your light and come across a lobster, hold your light as far away from your attacking hand as possible. The bright light will shock them into a freeze, only for a fraction of a second. But that is all you need to make the grab.