Glossary of Terms
Terminology can vary widely depending on what region of the coast you are
in. The following is a list of some terms I've heard in Southern Maine.
- berried female
- A female lobster with its eggs attached to its swimmerets.
- Lobster eggs.
- Slang for lobster.
- The shell covering the cephalothorax.
- A lobster's head and thorax are fused. This term defines the area including
the head and thorax.
- A male lobster.
- A lobster missing one or both claws.
- Also 'aftman' or 'sternman'. The person responsible for emptying, baiting,
stacking, and dropping traps as well as just about everything else that needs
to get done except hauling traps and piloting the boat. A busy person.
- Two traps on a single buoy.
- A berried female.
- Refers to traps, lines, buoys and other equipment used in taking lobster.
- hard-shell lobsters
- Has the hardest shell of all. They can be identified by looking at the
underside of the claws of a live animal. Black mottling indicates that the
animal has a hard shell and has not molted yet. Once cooked, you'll need
nutcrackers to get the shell off.
- A female lobster.
- legal lobster
- Currently a legal lobster (in Maine) is a lobster that:
- has a carapace between 3 1/4 and 5 inches long as measured from behind
the eye and straight back to where the thorax ends and the tail begins.
- is not a berried female.
- has 'pristine' flipper to the right of the center flipper, showing
no V-notch, nicks, grooves, or indentations of
any kind along its edge.
- Some states are scheduled to increase the minimum size of legal animals
over various time periods. In Maine, this means that the number of animals
that can be taken will be reduced since the 5" rule for over-sized animals
(which can not be taken) will remain the same.
- Also 'Live-well'. A tank filled with seawater to hold caught animals. Rarely
do boats have them under the deck.
- lobster pot
- see trap.
- To shed the shell in order to form a new one to accommodate the animal's
larger size as it grows.
- new-shell lobster
- A lobster that has recently molted and whose shell is still relatively
soft. The shell is harder than a 'rubber' lobster,
but softer than a soft-shell. You can feel the softness of the shell on the
claws with gentle pressure. New-shells usually do not get bands put on their
claws because they are so soft they can't inflict any damage to the other
animals in the holding tank. Indeed some shells may be so soft that the band
may crush the claw. You'll rarely (if ever) find these for sale. No one seems
to want to buy a lobster that has no bands on it's claws.
- see double.
- A lobster missing both claws.
- river gear
- Similar to a triple but heavier and with a buoy
at each end of the trap line. This rig is used in river entrances where tidal
currents can be surprisingly swift and harbor traffic is high. Other vessels
frequently run into buoys and may cut them loose from the traps. It is less
likely that both buoys will get cut loose. The added weight helps prevent
the traps from being moved around by tidal currents.
- rubber lobster
- Also called 'Jello-lobster' or 'rags'. These are lobster that have just
shed their shells and the new shell has not yet hardened at all. They feel
like soft rubber (hence the name) and are quite fragile.
- soft-shell lobster
- Harder than the new-shell. The claws have hardened enough to be banded.
Once cooked, the shell can usually be removed with bare hands.
- Lobsters that are too small to take legally.
- One trap on a buoy.
- see shorts.
- spring tide
- Tides of extreme fluctuation caused by the relative position of earth,
sun, and moon. They occur with the full and new moons. For more infomation
- Refers to a group of seagulls. You can see a 'flock' of sparrows, but you
always see a 'squabble' of gulls.
- Also 'fish tote'. A box used to hold bait fish (and just about anything
else that needs stowing).
- A baited cage used to trap lobster.
- A string of traps connected with line and layed with a buoy at each end.
Eight- and ten-trap trawls are common.
- A set of three traps on a single buoy.
- V-tail or V-notched
- Once caught, any berried female without a notched
tail gets a notch cut in its tail and released. The notch is cut in the flipper
to the right of the middle flipper. Any lobsterman catching a female with
a notched tail (a 'V-tail') must release it, regardless of its size or whether
or not it is berried. This is done to help identify breeding females and
keep them producing while culling those females that do not produce. Not
all states do this. Maine was the first to put it into practice. The notches
eventually grow out after several molts.