A Lobster Education aboard the Sea Swallow

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No trip to Maine would be complete without a proper lobster boat tour.  When searching for a boat to join I knew I didn’t want a run-of-the-mill trap but short of hijacking a lobster boat, non-touristy boat tours are tricky to find.  So I was glad I chose Captain Clive Farrin.  Raised in Boothbay Harbor just across the street from the boat dock, we found him and his deck-hand, Cage, in front of his white house preparing the traps for the day.  A friendly man with white hair and beard, he sorta reminded me of Santa Claus.  Two other people joined us and we all headed down to the docks to board his boat, the Sea Swallow.

It was a perfect sunny day to catch lobsters.  Captain Farrin and his deck hand showed us how they set and haul lobster traps.  While we hauled lobster traps, he explained the Maine lobster regulations and how they protect the lobster industry.  Here are some moments I remember:

catching lobsters


First how to tell if a lobster is male or female:  females have a wider tail to accommodate the eggs, and their first pair of swimmerets are softer.

lobster sex


To know which lobsters to keep, basically the length of the body shell is measured and this must be at least 3 ¼ inches but no longer than 5 inches.  Anything outside of these measurements are put back.

lobster sizing


We pulled one with a v-notched flipper to the right side of the middle and he explained that it was an egg-bearing female and cannot be caught, so he tossed it back into the ocean.

v-notched lobster tail


Poor lobster flapping lopsidedly in the trap because it was missing a claw.  You can see the missing claw slowly growing back out; it felt like rubber.  (We also caught a few lobsters who have recently molted.  These have really soft shells. Cage said he thinks they taste better than hard-shelled lobsters, though not as meaty.)

one-clawed lobster


The seagulls followed us wherever we went, ready to pounce on any stray fish from the lobster traps.

seagulls and lobster traps


What a great and fun trip.  During this whole time I saw great views of the Boothbay Harbor and an extra treat: a glimpse of  the Burnt Island Lighthouse to add to my collection.

burnt island lighthouse


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