Most people don’t encounter lobsters except for an occasional tank at the supermarket or in a toasty buttered bun. But these humble crustaceans have a special place here at the New England Aquarium and in New England lore. On National Lobster Day today, let’s meet some of these handsome critters—and not just the American lobsters you may be thinking of!

american lobster
American lobster (Homarus americanus)

When we talk about lobsters, the image that pops into a New Englander’s head is probably the American lobster. These are the mottled brownish critters that are a delicacy on dinner plates. You’ll find them in North Atlantic waters from Canada through North Carolina, and they can get as big as 40 pounds! The big guy in our Boulder Reef display in the Gulf of Maine exhibit is around 20 pounds. Genetic mutations cause these creatures to come in a variety of hues, including blue, orange, and even split half-and-half. Shell color can also be determined by diet, as is the case with some of the baby lobsters in our Blue Planet Action Center nursery with bluish shells.  

Take a walk around the Aquarium to see if you can spot these American lobsters in our cold water exhibits! 

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)

The Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) can be found from North Carolina and Bermuda south to Brazil—and in the Aquarium’s Blue Hole exhibit. They are about a foot long, though they can grow to be longer than 3 feet and weigh 15 pounds in the wild! Caribbean spiny lobsters are one of approximately 30 different spiny lobster species found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Unlike the American lobster, they lack large claws and have spines covering their body for protection. Like their American lobster cousins, Caribbean spiny lobsters have long antennae on the front of their carapaces for defense.

slipper lobster
Slipper lobster

One of the more unusual lobsters at the Aquarium is the slipper lobster. See if you can spot them crawling on or hiding in the coral habitat in the frogfish exhibit in the Yawkey Coral Reef Center at the top of the Giant Ocean Tank. Slipper lobsters look very different from the other lobsters at the Aquarium, and actually they’re not considered true lobsters. They have enlarged antennae, which project forward from the head as wide plates. 

Spending some time with the lobsters at the Aquarium is just one way to enjoy National Lobster Day. If you choose to celebrate with some lobster on your dinner plate, please look for sustainably caught seafood and help protect our blue planet!