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What is an Arthropod?

An extra-large lobster has narrowly avoided being cooked and eaten, after a member of the public decided to buy him... and then release him back into the sea! Nicknamed “King Louie” because of his massive size, the lobster is estimated to be as much as 100 years old.

For most of the lobsters on sale at the Alma Lobster Shop in New Brunswick, Canada, it’s only a matter of time before someone buys them, cooks them and serves them up on the dinner table. However, King Louie isn’t like most lobsters. He’s more than 1 metre long and weighs a whopping 10.4 kilograms – more than 10 times heavier than the average lobster. The shop’s owners were so impressed with his size that they posted a photo online. This caught the eye of Katie Conklin from nearby Nova Scotia, who immediately offered to buy him.

However, such a large crustacean doesn’t come cheap. The price was based on his total weight, and ended up costing $230 Canadian dollars – that’s equivalent to £135! But for animal-loving Katie, it was worth it. The next day, she arranged for Louie to be loaded onto a fishing boat and taken back out to sea. Once the boat was close to the spot where Louie was originally caught, the lucky lobster was lowered back into the water.

Based on his size, Louie’s age has been estimated at around 100 years old, though it’s very difficult to know for sure. That’s because as lobsters grow, they shed their hard outer shell, called an exoskeleton, and grow a larger, more spacious one. This process is called moulting. Later, when the replacement shell gets too small, the lobster gets rid of that one too – and so on, throughout its entire life. red lobsterTo reach his current size, Louie would have had to replace his shell more than a hundred times already, and this makes it very difficult for scientists to work out exactly how long he’s been alive.

Louie will have to grow a lot more, however, if he wants to become the largest lobster ever. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, fishermen in Nova Scotia once managed to catch a lobster weighing over 20 kilograms. That’s almost twice as big as Louie – who perhaps isn’t “King” of the sea after all!

Watch What is an arthropod? to find out more about exoskeletons and moulting.