If you live under the sea, it’s a hard world… In fact the world of communcation under sea is a mystery for us, especially when it comes to lobsters and other crustaceans.
Like humans, lobsters have a nervous system that depicts their social status. The higher on a social hierarchy a lobster climbs – according to its fighting wins and losses – the more serotonin its brain produces.
More defeat leads to a restricted serotonin supply. And serotonin is partially responsible for a feeling of happiness and well-being in humans.
Having said all that, the way that lobster communicate is probably gonna blow your mind.
How do lobsters speak to each other?
Lobsters communicate by peeing at each other. Plain and simple. They have two bladders located on either side of their head. They also have two conveniently located urine nozzles that release their pee from under their eyes. They use these nozzles to spray urine at other lobsters to communicate various messages.
Once released, the chemicals in their urine travel toward the pathways of other lobsters. This absorption helps them to translate this smell into information about the other lobster’s position in the social hierarchy.
A lobster’s sexual status is also determined by other lobsters in the same process.
Why do lobsters pee at each other?
Lobster urine contains chemicals known as pheromones. When they squirt their urine at their surroundings, it releases a mixture of messages. The urine also has a unique capacity: it can squirt up to seven lobster lengths away!
Most of the communication-peeing is about mating. Lobsters tend to be solitary animals. They don’t like mixing with other lobsters.
When they get into a fight, the winning lobster will have urine that smells differently than the losing lobster. The chemical changes in the winner lobster smell are more attractive to females. Because of this, the winner gets the first pick of the batch with females. The male lobster will shoot urine in the direction of the females. If one of them likes his scent, they will mate.
Both male and female lobsters communicate through their urine, but their intentions are not the same. Where a male will establish dominance and attract a mate, the female will use her urine to soothe a potential mate.
If a female approaches the burrow of a male lobster and likes the smell of his urine, she’ll move closer. She’ll then pee in his face. This move appears to minimize aggression in the male. It also signifies that it’s time for them to do the deed.
One more way they communicate is by rubbing their antennas together fast enough to produce a squeaky noise. Scientists still have no idea why they do this or what purpose it serves, they only know that this sound can be heard from quite a distance. It is a form of predator repellence. The noise is not pleasant.
You won’t see this one coming…
Another way they can communicate and trick their predators in a situation is to self-amputate and throw a claw. However, claws enable them to capture and crush food, hence this practice is usually avoided.
But the lobster can actually grow a new claw, so long as it has been completely removed. They may have to wait a few years to regenerate that claw though. Doing this puts them at a bit of a disadvantage for a while.
The lobster only has a few means of communication and not much of a brain to do so. There are urinating pheromones, lunging in combat, as well as, presenting their status with body language. Some parts of the lobster body are used for communication back to itself from its environment. The antennae and feet are two such communicators. One serves as both outward and inward communication, and the other as a sense of smell.
The antenna communicates to a predator, along with the claws, that the lobster knows it’s a possible threat, and they are sizing it up. It can tell a myriad of things just by a few pats and strokes of the antennae, such as the size of the prey. Even though they can see with their eyes, though not very well, the depth perception is aided by those long antennae. They can tell how far away the predator is in terms of reach and measure that quickly against the time it may take to snap this thing before it eats them. They are quick on their feet; on the seafloor and swimming towards prey. They can even smell food with their feet.
Moreover, they might also use their feet and the tiny hairs that stick out from their shells to feel temperature and communicate changes that will affect them in their environment.
In conclusion, the lobster is one of the best crustacean communicators on the planet. They have pursued longevity and a definitive system of hierarchy and reproduction, and they are masters at it. They keep their population strong by constantly communicating with the environment. Their young are delicate yet resilient, and most little lobsters make it. From sea to table, your lobster fought the good fight.
There are plenty of places in Devon where you can enjoy some seafood, including lobster. Check out our best places to eat in Plymouth guide.