Last week, on Martha’s Vineyard, while eating lobster on the docks of Menemsha, my 20 year old daughter asked, “Where do lobsters come from?” She always stumps me! I’m still having trouble with chickens and eggs, so I looked it up and what I found was utterly fascinating.
With a characteristic similar to some humans I know, the female lobster is always attracted to the bad, dangerous alpha in the hood. The male lobster is a mean and aggressive beast. Being the most powerful fighter has earned him the respect of the other males and the pick of the females.
When the female lobster is ready to mate, she approaches alpha’s den and secretly squirts a pheromone, subtly mixed with her urine into his lair. Sensing an intruder, the male rushes to his door with his claws raised aggressively, but he is already sufficiently ruffied, and after a brief fight, the female places her claws upon the love drugged male’s head, who then obediently escorts her over the threshold of his cave.
Over the next couple of days, the now intoxicated and infatuated male waits patiently as he watches his lady undress. She does this, by splitting her shell at the tail and wiggling out of her ‘clothes’ exposing herself fully to her lover. At this point, the aggressive male has a choice, to eat her or to make love to her? Thankfully due to her love drug, he usually chooses the latter.
Without her shell, the female lobster is completely defenseless; Aware of her vulnerability, and still high on pheromones, her mate is uncharacteristically gentle. He uses his little walking legs to gently turn her on to her back, taking great care not to tear her soft flesh. He then makes love to her with almost human tenderness.
In the human world, most women would fall hopelessly in love with this intoxicating combination of power and love; but the female lobster knows better – Such charisma always comes at a cost as does infidelity – And so after a few days, when her shell has grown back, she leaves the love nest without a backward glance.
Lucy Dahl is an author and screenwriter. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two dogs and beloved pig, Francis Bacon.