When buying live lobster from a seafood market, the fishmonger may wrap it in a package like a wet newspaper to keep them alive and healthy until you bring them home. But how long can a lobster survive out of water?
In their natural habitat, lobsters live in the ocean and are adapted to being submerged in saltwater. But lobsters can survive for up to 36-48 hours out of water. This is because lobsters have a primitive form of water-breathing and can absorb oxygen from the air through their gills.
However, it’s important to remember that for your lobster to survive out of the water, you need to keep them cool and moist until you get them back into the ocean or cook them.
Let’s dive into the details to give you an idea of how to keep your lobsters alive until you can cook them.
Factors That Affect a Lobster’s Survival Out of Water
It may sound unbelievable for lobsters living on the bottom of the ocean to survive on land, but their primitive form of water-breathing has evolved to help them stay. But the amount of time your lobster can live out of water depends on a few factors.
Lobsters are more likely to survive longer out of water in cooler temperatures. They prefer temperatures around 15-18 °C or 59-64 °C and can stay alive even temperatures change between 0-25 °C. In warmer temperatures, lobsters can become stressed, and their survival time may be shortened.
Keeping the air around the lobster humid can also help it survive longer out of water. Humidity helps prevent the lobster from drying out and allows it to absorb oxygen from the air better.
Access to water
If a lobster has access to a small amount of water, such as in a damp cloth or wet newspaper, it may survive longer out of water. Some people might keep them cool with the ice, but beware that when the ice melts and becomes water, the lobster may drown because it is not seawater.
Larger lobsters tend to have a greater ability to survive out of the water than smaller lobsters. This is because they have more significant amounts of hemolymph and can absorb more oxygen.
How Long Can a Lobster Survive Out of Water?
So, how long can a lobster realistically survive out of water? The answer isn’t exact, as it will depend on the abovementioned factors and the individual lobster. The general rule of thumb is that lobsters can survive up to 36-48 hours out of the water, depending on the conditions and how you store them.
Here’s a breakdown of the average survival time for lobsters out of water in different circumstances:
|Circumstance||Average Survival Time|
|Cool temperature (below 10°C 50°F)||Up to 48 hours|
|Warm temperature (above 10°C 50°F)||Up to 36 hours|
|With access to a small amount of water||Up to 48 hours|
It’s worth noting that the above survival times are just estimates, and a lobster’s actual survival time may be shorter or longer depending on the individual circumstances.
Can You Bring Live Lobster Back to the Ocean?
No matter what time live lobsters like out of the water, it is unlikely to survive if released back into the ocean. Most lobsters from seafood markets are from different habitats, and their bodies are not adapted to the new environment.
It’s not a good idea to release a lobster back into the sea after it has been out of the water; it can also disrupt the natural ecosystem and impact other marine life.
Suppose you want to do something with your live lobsters rather than cook them. In that case, you could donate them to a local aquarium or research institution that may be able to use them for educational purposes.
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Tips for Keeping Live Lobsters Alive
If you need to keep a live lobster alive for a short period, here are a few tips to follow:
Keep the lobster cool
As mentioned, cooler temperatures can help a lobster survive longer out of water. Keep the lobster in a cool place, such as a refrigerator or a cooler with ice ,as described in our article on the subject.
Keep the air around the lobster humid
As lobsters breathe through their gills, keeping the air around them moist is important. Wrapping the lobster in a damp cloth or wet newspaper can help to keep the air humid.
Don’t let the lobster dry out
A lobster’s body is covered in a thin layer of mucus, which helps to keep it moist and healthy. Make sure to keep the lobster moist to prevent it from drying out.
Avoid handling the lobster too much
Handling a lobster can stress it out and shorten its survival time. Try to take the lobster as little as possible.
I recommend buying live lobster when you are ready to cook it. This way, you can ensure the lobster is fresh and can survive without worrying about how long it can stay. You can use a live lobster delivery service, which can get you a fresh live lobster on the day you want to cook it.
No matter what, it’s important to remember that a lobster can only survive a few days out of the water, so if you don’t plan on cooking it soon after purchase, keep them as comfortable as possible until you are ready to cook. With the proper care and attention, your live lobsters will be good to go in no time.