How old do lobsters get?

Generally Lobsters live to about 40 or 50 years. Lobsters living to the age of 100 is not uncommon. George the lobster (20 lbs) has been recorded at 140 years old. Guinness book of world records measured a lobster at 44.4 pounds which could have been far older.

It takes approximately seven years (depending on the water temperature) for a lobster to grow to legal harvesting size (1-1 1/4 lb.). After that, a lobster will grow about 1 pound for every 3 years.

It is interesting to note that lobsters show no real signs of aging, other than growing. They actually can reproduce and stay fertile continuously! Since the lobster gains weight as it ages it becomes more and more difficult for it to stay alive.

The secret lies in their telomeres.

Telomeres are found at the end of chromosomes for all living creatures. As we age and cells divide, the telomeres shorten because the polymerase cuts data off the end. And eventually it cuts into important data leading to cell failure. Either lobsters telomeres are much longer, taking a much longer time to shorten, or the polymerase does not trim the telomeres. Allowing them to 'maintain their youth' indefinitely.

Professor Jelle Atema of Boston University, who has studied lobsters for decades, wants to test the animal's limits. Right now, he has a 15-pound lobster living in a cage, free from predators and pathogens. Even in these idyllic conditions, it will be years before Professor Atema's lobster approaches any records.

New ways have been found to measure the age of a lobster by analyzing its brain. Scientists found that growth (Molting) rings could be found in the eyestalk - a stalk connected to the body with an eyeball on the end - of lobsters, crabs and shrimp. Estimating age would be a matter of estimating how often molting happens, and counting the rings.