~2.6 million years ago The Pleistocene era, during which the American lobster is thought to have first emerged, gets under way. ~3,500 Years Ago Earliest known depiction of a lobster (spiny) is carved on a temple wall in Deir el-Bahari, Egypt. 4th century Ancient Rome’s De re coquinaria—today the oldest cookbook in the world—includes several lobster recipes, […]
By Yankee Magazine
Jun 15 2017
~2.6 million years agoThe Pleistocene era, during which the American lobster is thought to have first emerged, gets under way.
~3,500 Years AgoEarliest known depiction of a lobster (spiny) is carved on a temple wall in Deir el-Bahari, Egypt.
4th centuryAncient Rome’s De re coquinaria—today the oldest cookbook in the world—includes several lobster recipes, among them boiled lobster with cumin sauce and lobster with wine.
1605The first recorded lobster catch in the New World is made by English sailors off today’s Maine coast: “…we drew with a small net of twenty fathoms very nigh the shore; we got about thirty very good and great lobsters.”
1620English physician Tobias Venner touts lobster as an aphrodisiac in his treatise on healthy living, Via Recta ad Vitam Longam.
1800sThe first New England “smack boats” appear, allowing fishermen to transport live catch via holding tanks with circulating seawater.
1810The wooden lath trap—that most iconic of lobstering gear—is said to originate on Cape Cod, MA.
1817The American lobster is described as a distinct species by Philadelphia naturalist Thomas Say.
1837The American lobster gets its current scientific name, Homarus americanus, courtesy of French zoologist Henri Milne-Edwards.
1842The nation’s first lobster cannery is established in Eastport, ME; the industry spreads rapidly over the next 30-odd years.
1850sWooden lath traps become the dominant gear, replacing hoop nets.
1872Maine becomes the first U.S. state to ban the taking of egg-bearing female lobsters.
1874Maine becomes the first U.S. state to set a minimum legal size for caught or harvested lobsters.
1875The first North American lobster pound opens on the Maine island of Vinalhaven.
1885North American lobster landings soar to 130 million pounds. Live lobster is in demand as a delicacy; in New York, late-night restaurants called “lobster palaces” cater to the rich and famous.
1890–1895Vermont-born biologist Francis Hobart Herrick writes (and beautifully illustrates) a definitive monograph called The American Lobster: A Study of Its Habits and Developments.
1895Maine’s lobster canning industry largely comes to a close, after years of decline brought on by new regulations and increased competition from Canada.
1918The lobster craze of the late 19th century takes its toll: With North American stocks depleted, only 33 million pounds are landed, a decline of 75 percent since 1885.
1920s–1930sA “lobster bust” sets in as landings plummet. In 1936, Maine records a low of 5.1 million pounds, down from an all-time high of 24.4 million in 1889.
1929The first lobster roll reputedly is served at Perry’s in Milford, CT.
1930sWooden “parlor” lobster traps, the forerunners of modern wire traps, are developed.
1933Maine becomes the first and only U.S. state to institute a maximum legal size for caught lobsters.
1942The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is formed to promote and protect America’s East Coast fisheries.
1947The Maine Lobster Festival debuts in Camden, ME; the next year it moves to Rockland, where it’s been held ever since.
1947The first fishermen’s co-op in Maine—and reportedly in the nation—is founded at Pemaquid Harbor.
1948Maine passes the “V-notch law,” protecting female lobsters that have been marked as breeding stock via a notch cut in the tail. In 1995, V-notch protection would be extended from Maine to Cape Cod, MA.
1967One of the oldest American lobster fossils, a claw, is found at Sankaty Head on Nantucket.
1970sWire-mesh lobster traps begin to replace the traditional wooden ones.
1975Lobster prices soar, hitting nearly $7.50 per pound wholesale (adjusted for inflation).
1987 Dedicated to research and education, the Lobster Institute is founded at the University of Maine.
1990Maine lobster landings reach 28 million pounds, topping their historic peak of 24.4 million, set back in 1889.
1993McDonald’s debuts the first national fast-food lobster roll, dubbed the McLobster (largely a flop, though it earns some diehard fans in Canada and even New England).
2012U.S. lobster landings hit a record 150 million pounds; at the same time, prices nose-dive to less than $3 a pound.
2015The U.S. Senate unanimously approves a resolution designating September 25 as National Lobster Day.
2016Thieves pull off a million-dollar lobster heist at a New Brunswick seafood company. (Four men have been charged and are awaiting trial.)
2016Maine’s lobster industry sets records for both its landings (130 million pounds) and catch value ($533 million).