How Do Lobsters Communicate?

Is it feasible to converse with a crustacean and what is the method of lobster communication? Lobsters possess intricate and articulate ways of communicating with each other, although they differ significantly from our own. There is still much that we are unaware of or do not entirely comprehend about the methods of lobster communication since they vary among species. In this article, we will explore some of the most fascinating and unforeseen ways that lobsters communicate with one another.

Here, we can observe a female lobster conveying a significant message to her opponent. Additionally, let’s explore other methods of communication among lobsters.

Lobster communication

The methods by which lobsters communicate vary depending on the species. Lobsters are a highly varied group, encompassing not only the familiar Maine clawed lobsters commonly consumed by humans, but also over 60 species of clawed lobster relatives and numerous other visually distinct types of lobsters, including the antenna-reversing clawless spiny lobster and the tail-curling squat lobster that appears to be bisected when viewed from above.

Each species of lobster has unique characteristics such as their physical structure, environment, social behavior, and dietary preferences. Similarly, their methods of communication also vary among the different species. Although there may be some similarities between certain types of lobsters, it cannot be assumed that a particular communication behavior observed in one species would have the same meaning for all other species. Nevertheless, let’s explore some fascinating ways in which certain types of lobsters communicate!

Are lobsters social?

Lobsters need someone to communicate with, otherwise, sending a message would be pointless. Let’s first understand who they communicate with.

Lobsters are typically solitary animals, except during breeding season when much of their communication revolves around finding a mate and defending against competitors. Some species, such as the Atlantic lobster shown in the video, have females living in close proximity to each other during egg hatching, but this is more about competition for space than cooperation.

Conversely, lobsters with spines (also called crayfish) are extremely sociable creatures that reside in big communities, providing safety from predators and facilitating migration by taking turns to follow each other’s slipstream; furthermore, the growth rate of juvenile spiny lobsters kept alone is slower than those raised in a group, indicating that social interactions are crucial for their well-being.

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While some lobsters are social and others are not, both types require communication with one another.

How do lobsters communicate with each other?

Lobsters use various methods to communicate with one another, ranging from unexpected to repulsive.

How do lobsters communicate using sound?

Lobsters have the ability to communicate through sound production, as evidenced by the rasping and screeching sounds made by spiny lobsters. The frequency and intensity of these sounds may convey certain messages.

  • Lobsters can communicate with each other to inform about the finding of a food source.
  • Function as an alert regarding potential threats from predators
  • scare away predators
  • The lobster uses a sudden movement to surprise its predators, creating an opportunity for escape.
  • Other sea creatures, including lobsters, are aware of their presence.

Lobsters of the European clawed variety have the ability to create sounds underwater by vibrating their carapace, and while it’s unclear why they do this, we do know that in noisy environments such as those with a lot of shipping noise, they will produce these sounds to ensure they can still be heard.

Can lobsters hear?

Lobsters have hairfans all over their bodies that can detect the vibrations produced by other lobsters when they rasp, screech or vibrate, which means that they are capable of detecting sounds even though they do not have ears.

How do lobsters communicate using chemicals?

One way that lobsters communicate, which is quite infamous, does not require any sound but rather involves their urine.

Incorrect, it’s not similar to a dog marking its territory.

Lobsters use pheromones in their urine to communicate, which are chemicals produced for the purpose of conveying information and eliciting a response from the recipient, and they have various ways of releasing them, including through scent glands, sweat, or urine. Lobsters use the latter method to communicate their social status and availability for mating, with ducts located just below their eyes for releasing urine and olfactory apparatus on their antennae for detecting the pheromone signals from other lobsters. Interestingly enough, lobsters pee out of their eyes!

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Let’s observe how the communication through urine takes place in real-life situations.

    Lobsters have a mating system where only the most powerful males are selected by female lobsters to ensure their offspring’s survival.
  • Lobsters determine the strongest males by engaging in behaviors that establish hierarchy, including waving their claws, pushing each other, whipping rivals with their antennae, and locking claws; although these battles are not usually deadly, they can cause injuries and lost limbs, and the pheromones of the combatants will change after the fight to indicate whether they won or lost.
  • During the breeding season, lobsters tend to engage in fewer fights and instead rely on urine squirting and pheromone signatures to determine which male is stronger, eliminating the need for physical altercations.
    Finally, the female lobsters can identify the most appealing male lobsters by analyzing their pheromone signature, which indicates the number of victorious battles they have won.
  • It is not unexpected that male lobsters are still agitated and may attack other lobsters who come too close, so female lobsters preparing to mate release their own urine towards the male’s face as a sign that they are female and willing to mate with him.

How lobsters communicate – summary

While some species of lobsters are typically alone for the majority of the year, others form social groups that last a long time; however, there is still much to learn about their methods of communication, but one of the most intriguing and well-understood techniques involves squirting urine containing pheromones from beneath their eyes, which serves as a means of conveying chemical messages to establish dominance within their social hierarchy and secure the most desirable mate while minimizing conflict.

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After learning about lobster communication, will your perception of these creatures change? Feel free to share any interesting lobster facts in the comment section below!

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References

Aggio & Derby. Chemical Interaction in Lobsters. Chemical Interaction in Crustaceans. 2010.

Buscaino et al. Investigated the Acoustic Behaviour of the European Spiny Lobster. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 2011.

Cenni et al. Investigated the Impact of Environment Complexity on the Aggressive Behaviour of Lobsters in Captivity. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2010.

Gherardi et al. Investigated Visual Identification of Fellow Lobsters in their Animal Behaviour study from 2010.

Jezequel et al. Research has revealed that the vocalizations of spiny lobsters can be heard from great distances underwater. Scientific Reports. 2020.

Jezequel et al. Investigating the Ability of the American Lobster to Detect Sounds. Journal of Experimental Biology. 2021.

Jezequel et al. Exploring the Possibility of Acoustic Masking from Shipping Noise in the European Lobster. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 2021.

Kropielnicka-Kruk et al. Investigating the Impact of Interaction with Other Lobsters on the Endurance, Expansion and Eating Habits of Young Tropical Spiny Lobsters. Aquaculture. 2019.

Patek et al. Unraveling Protection: The Role of Lobster Noises. Behavior. 2010.

Shebani’s Biology Dissertation from Georgia State University in 2008 explored the Role of Chemical Senses in Predation, Risk Assessment, and Social Behavior of Spiny Lobsters.

Shebani et al. Investigated how Spiny Lobsters communicate with one another through urine-borne olfactory signals and physical aggressive behaviors to determine social status. Experimental Biology. 2009.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

[Wikipedia] [Encyclopedia Britannica] [National Geographic] [cdc.gov] [Purina]

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