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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Test-Tube Lobsters....

Test-Tube Lobsters

I found out more than I ever wanted to know about lobsters in Maine. They are so proud of the hideous creatures there that I'm surprised they are not on the state flag. However, a large part of the economy of the state is based on the lobster industry. Maine produces 75% to 80% of all lobsters used in the U.S.

Since lobsters are so economically necessary, they are artificially bred to ensure a large supply of lobsters is available. We visited a lobster hatchery where we met a lobster fisherman who explained fishing for lobsters. Can you believe he was not a fisherman but a fisher-woman?

Somehow fishing is not an occupation that I expected a woman to have, and she did admit that it is not something usually done by a female. It seems her husband was a fisherman and after he passed on, she decided to continue the business. She said that she has always been around fishing and the sea and it is the way of life familiar to her. She has her own fishing boat that she takes out
to sea.

Lobster fishing is tightly regulated and controlled. Fishers are allowed to have only a certain number of traps and have to fish in a designated area. Lobsters cannot be too small and so the little ones are allowed to escape through an escape hatch in the trap. Lobsters that are too large are sometimes caught in traps, but they are turned loose as they are the breeders and not marketable

Prices for lobsters vary according to how big the catches are for the year. Lobster fishers are not paid nearly as much for the lobsters as people pay at restaurants, she assured us. According to information I have seen, the fishers get only a few dollars a pound for all the trouble of catching them. For every dollar paid to a lobsterman for a lobster, $3 to $5 is generated for related businesses such as processors, restaurants, marinas and bait suppliers.

The lobsterwoman showed us how she sets and retrieves a lobster trap. She removes the "bugs," as the fishers call them, from the traps and puts the bands on the large claws. Hearing about the lobsters was probably one of the most interesting parts of the entire trip, but I don't think I'll be giving up my office job and going to sea.

We then visited the actual hatchery where the lobsters are bred. Female lobsters with fertilized eggs are removed from the sea and taken to the hatchery where they are held in tanks until the eggs hatch. The eggs remain attached to the lobster and are carried around for nine months before hatching. Seem familiar?

After hatching, the tiny lobsters, barely visible, are removed and placed in an area with rows of large bubbling tubes about eight feet tall that resemble the lab of a mad scientist in a science fiction movie. Because lobsters are predatory and will eat each other, they are kept apart by the fierce bubbling action in the water.

We laughingly dubbed them "test-tube lobsters.

When they grow larger, they are separated into small individual tanks until they are large enough to return to the sea. They are released at the bottom of the sea in areas where conditions are best for survival. Only about fifty percent survive to become adults, but in the wild, the survival rate by natural reproduction is only about ten percent.

All of this trouble only to ensure the survival of lobsters so they can be caught and eaten. Somehow it spoiled my appetite and I decided I would just have a salad for dinner.

Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss

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