Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Search in the Encyclopedia

Common lobster


up to 1 meter


more than 5 kilograms


blue black, sometimes red spots and yellow edges on the shell, red antennae


up to 20 years


omnivore, particularly worms and shells. Also carrion


fisheries, seals


sexual, 1 per 2 to 3 years

  • Dut: (gewone) Zeekreeft
  • Eng: European lobster
  • Ger: Hummer
  • Lat: Homarus gammarus
  • Fre: Homard
  • Dan: Hummer
Common lobster, Ecomare

European lobster

The European lobster lives the most part of its life alone in a hole or under a stone. It has large claws and as soon as an enemy approaches, it first threatens with its claws. If that doesn't work, it can swim very rapidly backwards. Adult specimen can grow to 1 meter long. However in the Netherlands, they rarely grow so large partially due to overfishing. European lobsters must shed in order to grow. After discarding their old shell, they definitely need their hole to protect them; their new shell takes a long time to harden, making them easy prey.

  • Distribution and habitat

    The European lobster is found in the North Sea and the Zeeuws delta. In 2006, 10,000 kilograms of lobsters from the Grevelingen and Oosterschelde were traded via the fish auction in Colijnsplaat. Lobsters live mostly in rocky regions, where they can hide under a stone. Sometimes, lobsters are found on sandy bottoms, as long as they can dig a hole. The hole has a front and back entrance so that they can escape from all precarious situations.

  • Shedding

    Lobsters must shed in order to grow. Their carapace is much too hard to stretch. They must shed their carapace often in their younger years but once they are mature, they only shed once (females) or twice (males) a year. While crawling out of their old shell, they absorb a large amount of water, increasing their size by at least 15%. Their new carapace then begins to harden. Depending upon the calcium content in the water, it can take several hours to several weeks. In order to help the process, lobsters will eat their own carapace for the calcium.

  • From egg to lobster

    European lobsters mate once in 2 to 3 years and only when the females are in a freshly molted state, the so-called soft-shell. The females carry the eggs around for a year on special appendices on their flippers. After hatching, the young larvae swim 2 to 7 weeks around in the water before molting into a state closely resembling an adult lobster. At this point, they settle on the bottom of the sea.