Friday, December 5, 2008

9.11 Lobster eyes

On the left is a normal 2-clawed Maine lobster. Newport Daily News (12/3/2008) reports that a 1.5-lb 4-clawed lady lobster is caught this week by a Mr Patrick Marks in the waters 60 miles south of Newport, RI. It has one crusher claw and three pincher claws, all functional. After showing it off most of the day, Mr Marks let her go, explaining that he "sometimes lets lobsters go out of guilt when they look at him funny."

Yes!! Lobster vision at work.

Lobster eyes are structurally very different from that of other animals (including the mantis shrimp). The cornea actually contains an array of mirror-like reflectors, each arranged at a specific angle, that ultimately focus incoming light rays onto the retina.

The optics is reflection rather than the more conventional refraction.

Presumably in the dim deep sea where sharp vision is less important than acute sense of smell and touch, the lobsters do not rely on vision to hunt, they only need to detect motion.

Under bright lights, the lobsters probably cannot not see much as everything is blended into the background and "washed out". Lights reflected from their eyes, on the other hand, will give you an impression that you are being stared at, inquisitively. If you were a lobsterman, you'd probably let them go, too.

Earlier this summer, another 4-clawed lobster was caught by a Mr Jimmy Whitty based in Morell, PEI, Canada. It was nicknamed Mothra and kept in an aquarium at a restaurant. It was, alas, lost to follow-up.

And in Taiwan (local news, 11/25/2008, reported in, fisherman Mr Chen caught a 3-kg male crab with a 50-cm "wing" span, estimated at 10 years old, at the mouth of Chen-wen Brook in Tainan Hsien (台南曾文溪河口). When caught with a net, it protested loudly with a hissing sound, fought gallantly with its claws, and with the eyes extending from the protective grooves, it was looking to escape at the same time. Mr Chen eventually let him go, so it can continue to propagate.