The news spread quickly through the media last week: a 7 kg lobster that was about to be sold at the Varennes IGA was “adopted” by the Montréal Biodôme, part of the Space for Life, last Friday. The crustacean, an estimated 35 to 50 years old, is in good health. After spending a few days in an isolation tank, it will be introduced into the rocky shore basin of the Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem today, where it can more easily be admired by visitors. It will remain there for two weeks, and then be transferred into the main basin in that ecosystem, containing 2.5 million litres of seawater.
The Biodôme’s new crustacean is an American lobster (Homarus americanus) from the Northwest Atlantic, caught off Nova Scotia. It is an impressive specimen, but actually smaller than the largest American lobster known to date, which weighed in at 20 kg and measured almost 110 cm from the end of its tail to the tips of its claws. The Biodôme currently has about 30 lobsters in its Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem. In 2008, an 8 kg lobster was donated to the Biodôme after a Boston woman won it in a Super Bowl contest. That lobster unfortunately died a few years ago.
Lobsters are bottom-dwelling predators belonging to the order Decapoda – they have ten legs. Their two front legs are used as claws (one for cutting and the other for crushing), and the other four sets of legs are for walking. They also have three pairs of antennae to help them find their way around their environment, and two very sensitive eyes at the base of their antennae. As lobsters grow they have to shed their shells, in a process called moulting. The new shell is soft at first and takes about a month to harden. In the wild, lobsters are often the first link in a chain of scavengers that dispose of organic waste in the sea. They are hunted, when they are young, by Atlantic wolffish, larger lobsters and crabs, and humans. They tend to be more active at night, and can survive for up to 50 years.
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Montréal Space for Life, the first space in the world dedicated to humankind and nature, brings together the Montréal Biodôme, Botanical Garden, Insectarium and Planetarium. Together they are committed to safeguarding and showcasing biodiversity and invite people from Canada and around the world to join in this bold, creative urban movement.
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