The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean

The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean

by Trevor Corson


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In this intimate portrait of an island lobstering community and aneccentric band of renegade biologists, journalist Trevor Corson escorts the reader onto the slippery decks of fishing boats, through danger-filled scuba dives, and deep into the churning currents of the Gulf of Maine to learn about the secret undersea lives of lobsters.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060555597
Publisher: HarperCollins US
Publication date: 05/10/2005
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 228,096
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

The author of The Secret Life of Lobsters, Trevor Corson has studied philosophy in China, resided in Buddhist temples in Japan, and worked on commercial fishing boats off the Maine coast. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times and is the only "sushi concierge" in the United States. He lives in New York City.

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Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
Yes, PMS – post-molt syndrome... The Secret Life of Lobsters is an exceptionally well written interwoven story. Corson does an excellent job of presenting the biology of lobsters as the scientists and lobstermen seek out these crustaceans and the struggle between the agents of public policy and those with hands in the sea. The book highlights population dynamics and ecology without the burden of technical vocabulary. While the book is fun to read, it also sheds important light on scientific process, public policy, and local ways of life. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trevor Corson's work features an excellent blend of American lobster biology, history, and politics as well as the story of scientist and lobstermen whose lives revolve around this crustcean. This is one of the few stories that paints fisherman/hunter or in this case lobstermen in a good light.The story shows how lobstermen had become the preservers of the American lobster even before the political machine was envolved. This is not just a story about nature but a human interest story. You will not be able to put it down. A must read. You will definately have a new found appreciation for that lobster on your plate.
Jean-and-John More than 1 year ago
Every now and then I like to read what I would call an "eclectic" book, that fits into a niche in my reading. This fit the bill. I learned something about lobsters, about history, some science, and about the people who make sure that the lobster fishery of Maine remains sustainable in the long term. A great read.
SkipAH More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. I am from Maine and I fished on the Maine coast. All the years I lived in Maine and remembered how the Feds kept reporting overfishing but I had lobsterman friends and didn't believe the Feds because the lobsterman had their own way to populate the fisheries by throwing back the egg laden females. I find it extremely interesting that once satellite technology was used they came up with different conclusions. Also once the trawlers came closer to the coast fishing for cod the lobster population exploded. I liked it so well that I purchased another three books, two for brothers in Maine and a brother in law in Alaska.
Treeman More than 1 year ago
A great mix of history, biology, and sociology. Sometimes the jumps from one view to another were hard to follow but easy enough once you are into it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I really liked how Corson blended the history, politics and science of lobsters together, it made the book very interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was reccommended to me by a friend, who's family are some of the main characters in the book. I wasn't able to put the book down. Trevor Corson does an outstanding job of mixing the science of lobsters with the stories of the people whos lives revolve around lobsters! The book is very entertaining and full of interesting facts!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never thought I would find lobsters fascinating, but this book changed that!
MM22 More than 1 year ago
Pursuing Life and Livelihoods Above and Beneath Maine Waves As your waiter ties the large paper bib behind your neck, have you ever paused to wonder how Homarus Americanus – typically “lobsta” in Northeastern US parlance – got to your plate? Maybe not but perhaps before you next dip a butter-slathered morsel of meat into your mouth, you might want to savor a dab of knowledge about lobsters and those who harvest them for a living. It is an entertaining and worthwhile tale to add to your enjoyment. Trevor Corson’s 2004 “The Secret Life of Lobsters” is a delightful balanced exploration of our efforts to uncover the deep, secretive world of these crustaceans and the livelihoods of fisherman and their families in the Cranberry Isles near Mt Desert Island in Down East Maine. Through seventeen chapters, not including the Prologue and Epilogue, the author alternates between the personal experiences of working a lobster boat, year in, year out, with the winding path of discovery and learning about what lobsters are doing beneath the waves. And as might be expected, the battles for dominance below the surface have their own counterparts above as lobsterman, scientists and government regulators wrangle over how best to preserve the future of lobsters as a viable food source. This debate has a recent familiar ring: a similar exchange about the future of the Maine seaweed industry is depicted in Susan Hand Shetterly’s 2018 “Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge”. However, Corson’s writing indicates a more cooperative effort on all sides to achieve a viable path to the future. The “Secret Life of Lobsters” is divided into five sections: Trapping, Mating, Fighting, Surviving and Sensing. The chapters are not overly long and the writing style is polished, at times humorous and, when needed, well researched. Corson brings his well-honed skill as a writer, editor and, dare I say, commercial lobsterman for two years to provide first-hand insights without being intrusive to the narrative. The section on Mating is clearly a crowd pleaser and entertaining for its detail and insight. But tasty insights are mixed throughout such as the inferior food source status of lobsters until recently and the comparative mishandling of the cod fishing industry. This is in marked contrast to the seemingly unappreciated efforts of lobstermen to self-regulate and ensure a renewable food source. How ecologists approach their studies are illuminated without being overwhelming. In Chapter 6 “Eviction Notice” the following approach is presented: “…first job was to notice a pattern in nature and then simply observe it for a while…next task was to come up with a hypothesis about the natural process that night create the pattern… (then) try to identify a concrete mechanism in nature responsible for the process.” Having had family from Maine and further North in Prince Edward Island as well as owned land briefly in Maine, I think you will find this book a delightful and engaging surprise. Now back to your meal… those bibs are so silly but essential, aren’t they?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cygnus555 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I learned so much in this book. Highly recommended! I've heard critisism that it meanders about too much, but for me, it was fantastic.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A couple of years ago my husband was browsing a ¿buy 2 get 1 free¿ table at our local B&N and could only find two books he wanted so he asked me to find a third one. I also couldn¿t find one I really wanted but this book caught my eye and the rave reviews on the back made me think I might as well take it since it would be free. It has languished on a shelf in my guest room (my husband is a scientist and maybe it would appeal to one of the visiting scientists we periodically host) until a couple of weeks ago when added the feature of putting on our profile page the names of librarything authors we have in our library. Trevor Corson was the only author I had represented so I decided to finally read the book for myself. What a revelation! Not only is the book well written but it is a page turner¿you can hardly wait to find out what happens next. For nonfiction that can be a real treat. The day I started reading it my husband invited some visiting scientists to go out to lunch. He asked me to go to the restaurant to get a table for all of us and I took my book to read while I waited for them to arrive. When they came one of them asked me what the book was about and I said, ¿Science, sex, and politics. What more could you want?¿ Of course, I explained that the sex was among lobsters. One of the delights in the book is how Corson alternates the stories of the fisherman with the information about the lobsters and the stories of the scientists. In ¿Scent of a Woman¿ he alternates the sexual practices of the lobsters with the story of how one of the fishermen wooed his wife. Corson does a magnificent job giving us glimpses into the lives of the fishermen and their families as well as a wonderful over-view of much of the science that has been conducted researching lobsters and the politics involved in trying to keep lobster fishing a viable business. He reveals so much about lobsters, how they live, reproduce, and behave that the reader is amazed at how intricate the lives of these creatures are. Also fascinating is the number of scientific experiments that have been going on for years and the variety of intricate apparati that have been developed to aid this research. But all this explanation of what the book covers doesn¿t begin to describe the joy and satisfaction the reader feels as he reads this story. This book deserves to become a classic and I will be encouraging everyone I know to read it. It is an absolute pleasure and a literary treasure. I hope to read more books by Trevor Corson.
upstairsgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Secret Life of Lobsters is a fascinating layperson's look at lobster biology and ecology from the perspectives of both the scientific community and the lobstermen. Corson chronicles the discoveries about lobster behavior that have been made over the past thirty or so years as biologists, oceanographers, ecologists, conservationists, and lobstering communities have worked, both together and against each other, to make sure that the lobster fisheries on the New England coast don't go the way of other similar fisheries - cod, for example - that were overfished to the brink of extinction during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Corson is as in love with the subject of lobsters as the people he talks to and works alongside throughout the book, and they are fascinating creatures in ways the ordinary lobster-savorer can't imagine. The book is also a great look at the way science progresses from hypothesis through testing and data accumulation to new understanding and new hypotheses, making mistakes and course corrections along the way as better techniques and more and better data become available.Corson's book is much more focused on the lobster itself than Woodard's The Lobster Coast, which is really a socio-political and economic history of much of the same parts of Maine. Corson is much less concerned with the characterization of Mainers and the degree to which they hate you, though the lobster and its history are inevitably tied to summer people and the socio-economic tensions that have always existed between them and the generally less-well-off year-round residents. It's a much more engaging read in many ways, and a much clearer picture of the conservation efforts that have kept the lobster fishery in Maine sustainable for over a hundred and fifty years.
bnbookgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a book club choice. Most of us found this an intruiging choice. Alot of interesting information about the Maine Lobster Industry. You can compare the families of Lobster Men with the families of coal miners or farmers. The local folklore tales were the most interesting parts of the books as some of the more scientific information could really bog you down. The book really does get some good discussions going as many take the side of the Lobstermen and others take the side of the government scientists.
FicusFan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was interesting, informative, funny, and warm. The book is about Maine Lobsters, but it also gives information and insight into the fishermen and lobster scientists. The writing was very good, with the information presented as stories. The behavior of the lobsters is presented from what they have learned in the labs. Priceless stuff, they pee in each other's faces to communicate. Who knew! It covers their lives, mating and social behavior and the life cycle from egg to armored bug.The book looks at a small group of fisher families on Little Cranberry Island in Maine. It also gives the history of several lobster scientist and researchers. It shows how they came to be dedicated to the Lobster, and how they conduct experiments.It looks at the controversy between fishers and scientists about the use of the Lobster as a resource. It makes a good case for the responsible self-stewardship by the fishermen in Maine, and for the limiting factor of Lobsters on the sea floor: sea temperature and current.I also love to eat Lobsters, and the next time I get a whole one with the shell on, I am going to check out all the bells and whistles, now that I know what they do.
bexaplex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Corson writes an engaging story about lobsters, the scientists who study them, and the folks who catch and sell them for a living. It's a very human-centric natural history, even though the author is strangely absent. Corson has a palpable respect for fishermen and women, and for scientific researchers, and a feel for the personal detail that makes a story (even a story about lobster research) compelling ¿ even when he's writing about international lobster regulation negotiations, he puts in an anecdote about G. H. W. Bush not being able to order lobster for dinner because he's sick of the whole subject.
jmcclain19 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All you've ever wanted to know about lobsters, and so much more. We're talking how to fish for them, how to cook them, how to eat them, how to study them in the ocean, how to study them in a lab, how to learn about their behaviors, how they mate, how they build homes, and so on and so on. All wrapped up in the format of a story about fisherman and scientists. Does a pretty good job of straddling the line between the fisherman and the scientists, two groups typically at odds in the oceans of the world.
Louise_Waugh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
found this when I got to the cottage this summer, a few minor scenes set on the Island (not mentioned by name, they place Lowell's Cove on Orr's Island but mention Cook's Lobster House)I found it fascinating because of the local ties, your mileage may differ.
JHINIE on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Secret Life of Lobster didn¿t quite turn out to be the book I expected it to be. Being a lobster lover myself, I was intrigued by the title. Also, being a fan of the fantasy genre, I believed this book to be a story of a secret lobster civilization, told from the lobster¿s point of view. But no; it turn out to be much, much different.In short, this was an extremely informative book about the history and modern practices that go along with our favorite crustacean. The Secret Life of Lobsters jumps back and forth between two distinct story lines, which, from my view, was done with great execution. There is, first and foremost, the story of an aquatic researcher who has taken the opportunity to study the patterns and behavior of the migratory lobster from the vessel Double Trouble. What makes this story so special about this man is that he had grown up surrounded by this unique industry. It is interesting to see how large a role lobster fishing played in his life. From the time he was a boy, he hoped that one day he would be a lobster fisherman like his father and have his very own boat. However, this isn¿t just a no-frills tale.Lobster fishing is an extremely competitive job; everyone¿s looking for the biggest slice of the pie. Out in those waters, there was no shortage of competition or rivalry. The intensity this book shows about lobster fishing and even studying lobsters is respectable. All the events in this book are true, which does make reading The Secret Life of Lobsters all the more intriguing. Plus, the story has a great ending, but of course, that is for you to find out silly. Seriously, this is a great to story that educates you on a subject you normally wouldn¿t believe you would need to be educated about. But trust me; you need to learn about lobster to better enjoy the delicious taste of such a creature that takes the hard work of so many people to capture. I recommend this book to anyone of any age. So please, pick up a copy today.
msjoanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a completely random and thoroughly enjoyable book this is. I have no particular interest in lobsters--other than finding them a tasty dinner option occasionally. I've never been to the Cranberry Islands in Maine and I'd be surprised if to learn that I've met any lobster fishermen. Nonetheless, I was completely absorbed by both the details of lobsters and the efforts by scientists to learn more about their lives and the lives of the fishers and fishing village itself. I'd definitely recommend this book as an interesting book nearly guaranteed to be different from whatever you read just before it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was surprised by how funny and interesting this book is A good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BJoanie More than 1 year ago
This book is full of interesting facts along with a great story about lobsters and those who love them. You will still be able to enjoy eating your lobster before, during and after reading this book. You might even learn to give thanks to the lobster that gave up his/her life for your meal.