Trapping lobsters in Florida’s Key West
DURING ships visits to Tampa or New Orleans, located in the Gulf of Mexico, it was usual to anchor in calm waters of Florida’s Key West for three to four days before weighing anchor and entering the congested harbours.
Our ship anchored early morning close to the Cape Sable in Florida. The place is renowned for the famous edible crusty cetacean shellfish, commonly known as lobster, Homaripus Americanus. We had portable lobster pots made out of thin metal plate. An opening permits the lobster to enter but not to escape through a tunnel of netting. The pots are constructed with two compartments called the ‘chamber’ and the ‘parlour’. The lobster enters the chamber first and then, through another tunnel of netting to a self-closing door, to the parlour in which a bait is placed.
A lobster pot is normally
75x100 cm rectangular. It is dropped into the ocean floor in strings of
a dozen, marked by a buoy for later retrieval. We were at the key west
anchorage for six days and had a good harvest of delicious muddy green
coloured American lobsters, about 1 foot long and weighing eight kg
each. The Indian counterparts are comparatively smaller and weigh less.
These are omnivorous and scavenge for dead or live fish. The three pairs
of legs terminate in pincers. A close look shows that the head bears two
pairs of antennas. The eyes are composed while the tail is fan-like.
The rigid, segmented body is moved forward with the help of five pair of legs. A flippe-like tail is used for swimming, while flexure of the tail and abdomen propells the animal backwards. Lobsters start laying eggs when they are five years old. Young lobsters are preyed upon by dog fish and cod but the principal enemy is man.
Lobster pots were lowered by us in 30 fathom shallow seawater, on a rocky bottom. International regulations require that lobsters between certain length and weight be returned to sea. While these conditions are followed by fishing trawlers and organised fishing boats, stray boatmen ignore all this and openly market tiny lobsters in fish markets quietly.
A lobster being a highly tasty seafood dish is very popular amongst the world’s elite. Hotels in Japan, the USA, Europe, Latin America, Russia and South-East Asia as well as cruise liners consume thousands of tons of lobster meat daily. Some of the vineyards in France and California have been offering lobster rolls while offering varieties of table wines and champagne to visitors for tasting au gratis, Japanese lobsters bred in Okinawa coast favourite in Japanese cuisine are smaller and often consumed raw.