07 February 2018

Lobsters vs. crayfish

I found the above photo on The Guardian as a SkyPixel aerial photography competition winner.  The caption reads "A [lobster] farm in Tuy Hoa, Phu Yen province, central Vietnam."

The photo got me thinking about what defines a "lobster."  I couldn't imagine any of the bottom-dwelling lobsters I once enjoyed at the West Street Cafe having come from such floating farms.   As  I researched "lobster farming" I found video like this intriguing one:

I thought "he calls them lobsters, I call them crayfish."  But perhaps I'm provincial and too restrictive in my vocabulary, since prawns and scampi are classified as lobsters.  Maybe it's the freshwater vs. seawater habitat that is the distinguishing characteristic.  No time to pursue it further.  Good photo and video.  You learn something every day.


  1. "Lobster" isn't a scientific term, so it can be applied in several ways. One person might mean true lobsters only, which is the group Nephropoidea. Another person might call everything lobster-ish a lobster, which is the group Astacidea. It includes true lobsters as well as true crayfish (Astacoidea), and a couple other groups, like reef lobsters. And a third person might use "lobster" and "crayfish" to distinguish between saltwater groups (like true and reef lobsters) and freshwater groups (like Astacoidea and Parastacidae, the latter of which also gets called "crayfish").

    1. Your comment prompted me to look up the etymology of "lobster" -


      Apparently from the Latin word for "locust", then applied to trilobite fossils and then other similarly-shaped organisms.

  2. There's one crayfish taking over Europe. We need to send a squad of New Orleans chefs immediately!



  3. As Italian this discussion confuses me. In Italian we have a very distinct definition for varios edible crustaceans and sell one for the other is problably punishable as fraud.
    Aragoste (lobsters)
    Astici (also lobster ?),
    Gamberi (shrimps),
    Scampi (shrimps ?)
    Canocchie (also shrimps ?)
    Mazzancolla (shrimps again?)
    Oddly we don't have a specific word for crayfish we call it "river shrimp" (Gamberetto di fiume)


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