Lobsters are a backbone of the seafood industry. The Australian rock and the Maine varieties of lobster could not be more different from each other. Scientifically speaking, the two crustaceans are related along the scientific classification chart through their kingdom, phylum, subphylum, class and order. But the two separate after that, eventually ending up on different dinner plates.
Australian Rock Lobster
The Australian rock lobster comes from the group of crustaceans called spiny lobsters. The spiny lobster family includes the rock and langoustine lobsters. In Australia and New Zealand, this family also includes crayfish. Spiny lobsters do not have claws, but long antennae and legs protruding from their bodies. The average Australian rock lobster is 10 inches long and about 6 pounds. A rock lobster's weight is primarily skeleton, shell and organs; it has only 1 to 2 pounds of meat.
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The Maine lobster is actually part of a species of lobster known as the American Lobster. These are typically red or black and possess claws. The Maine lobster resides in shallow seawater, typically in the northern Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to the Maritime provinces of Canada. Maine lobsters typically top out at one and a half to 2 pounds and 12 to 20 inches long.
The Australian and Maine lobsters have different flavors. Rock lobsters are found in warm water. The result is meat with a tough texture and a saltier, fishier flavor. The cold waters of the North Atlantic keep the Maine lobster meat tender and prevent the saltwater from saturating the flavor of the meat. This is the primary reason Maine lobster tends to have a sweet flavor.
How to Eat
The Maine lobster contains meat in both the claws, torso and tail. While typically boiled and served steamed, Maine lobsters can be grilled or shelled and the meat prepared for salads, sauces and sandwiches--such as lobster rolls. Rock lobster meat is contained primarily in the tail. The tails can be separated from the body and boiled or grilled. The meat can also be removed and deep-fried, which is a delicacy in Australia and New Zealand.
Lobsters represent large portions of the seafood industry. Rock lobsters represent 20 percent of the Australian seafood business, resulting in the equivalent of $206 million in American money annually. The fishing of Maine lobsters is a billion-dollar industry in America. The U.S. lobster harvest averages 72 million to 75 million pounds annually, with ports in Maine receiving more than 60 percent of the catch.