Just read an article in the 8/3/00 edition of Newsday on the unusual topic of "soft shell lobsters" (akin to soft shell crabs). There is a lobster farm on Long Island that raises lobsters and, out of every 1000 lobsters, only 2 or 3 are caught at the exact proper time to be consumed as soft - shell lobsters. Apparently, if they aren't caught within 24 hours of losing their shell, a new shell will regrow and the lobster's new shell will be 30% tougher by then. The article said it is impossible to catch soft-shelled lobsters in the ocean...only on lobster farms.
I'm certainly not a lobster expert BUT I've seen soft-shell lobsters many times at lobster pounds in Maine. Does this mean they shed while the were being held in the lobster car? They are difficult to trap because they are very vulnerable until the shell hardens and they stay out of sight until that happens. But I don't know why anyone would buy them; the meat is pretty watery, in my experience. I've never heard of buying shedders on purpose, although sometimes you'll get one that is still pretty pliable. p.
Unfortunately aquaculture has never been successful
with lobsters. They must always be dredged up
from the deep in traps. Sometimes a scuba diver
like me can grab dinner out of a cave under 30 or
40 feet of water but this is rare and unless the
lobster is over a pound and unless the diver
has a valid shellfishing license this is strictly
illegal. Lobsters are very "eco-sensitive" and
to date no one has figured out how to farm them.
BTW, I've heard that the Long Island lobster die-off
is being blamed on the West Nile Virus spraying
going on in New York. It's such a shame that so
many of our lobster fishermen lost their livelihood
because the LI lobster population has been decimated.
This is just part of a larger problem which is that
many sea creatures are being over-fished and supplies
are dwindling. Species at risk: swordfish, shark,
skate, cod, scallops, sea urchin and more.