Innovation Blog

Lobsters Are Not Stupid, But Maybe We Humans Are!

By Shlomo Maital


  A Lobster Trap


The widespread practice of boiling lobsters alive has always seemed to me barbaric.   Who cares? People say, lobsters don’t have consciousness or intelligence anyway.

  Now comes evidence that lobsters are smart, intelligent, clever, and even cute.  They deserve far better than boiling alive.

   Lobsters are caught in lobster traps, which are mesh boxes with ‘one way’ entrances and bait.  Once in the trap, lobsters have their final meal before execution, are too dumb to know how to escape, and are pulled up into boats by lobster fishermen.

   Or, so we thought for a century.

   Researchers and students at University of New Hampshire decided to test this well-worn assumption noted above and lower video cameras into lobster traps, to see precisely what happens inside one.  And here is their surprising finding, based on 24-28 continuous hours of time-lapse shooting:

  • A large number of lobsters approach and enter a trap, but only 1-3 are caught, because THE VAST MAJORITY ESCAPE!  Only 10 per cent of lobsters that approach a trap actually enter, despite the tempting bait inside, and of those, only 6 per cent are caught.  Over three-fourths of the lobsters who escape do so through the entrance.

  It is interesting that the huge (and so far, misunderstood) inefficiency of lobster traps have inadvertently kept the lobster population from being overfished.  If we could, we would have trapped every possible big lobster, thus endangering them. 

   So who is the dumb one here, lobsters? Or us humans?  And who, if any, deserves to be boiled alive? 

  Innovators:  Any time you encounter something EVERYbody believes implicitly, it’s true because it’s always been true, we all know it’s true,  question it!  Check it out!  You may get a lobster-like  surprise.