Fisherman Catches Pregnant Lobster, Gives Her Two Fish and Throws Her Back

A Maine fisherman caught a pregnant lobster, gave her two fish "for the road" and threw her back into the ocean, footage shows.

The pregnant lobster was caught on the first day back of the 2022 fishing season, which begins as the weather starts to warm up in the spring. Fisherman Jacob Knowles posted the video to his TikTok account and it has gained over 1.6 million views and more than 100,000 likes.

In the footage, which can be seen here, Knowles holds the pregnant lobster up to the camera, where thousands of eggs can be seen under her tail.

"We've just finished our first day back," he says. "We've got an egger here, with no punch."

Knowles then proceeds to tag the female's tail.

"Don't worry TikTok this isn't hurting her," the fisherman says. "We're just notching her to mark that she's a breeder so she can't be captured in the future when she doesn't have eggs."

Depending on the female's size, lobsters are capable of laying 100,000 eggs. Eggs are carried externally under the lobster's tail for nearly a year. The harvesting of pregnant lobsters has been prohibited in Maine since 1872—even if the lobster is caught without eggs in the future, the tag on her tail will let other fishermen know that it is illegal to catch and sell her. The 1872 law was put in place to allow the lobster population to reproduce, to make sure it does not dwindle.

In the footage, Knowles can then be seen placing the lobster down on the side of the boat and putting one fish in each of her claws.

"We're going to give her two pieces for the road," he says. "Go make some babies sweetheart."

Knowles then returns the pregnant lobster to the ocean.

In the comments section of the video, one TikTok user said: "I love how you give them something for their trouble."

Another said: "Pregnant ladies love snacks!"

American lobsters are found across the northwest Atlantic Ocean. They are particularly abundant in waters off Maine, but can also be found off Labrador to Cape Hatteras. In 2020, 96 million lobsters were caught and sold, according to Maine's Department of Marine Resources.

In the comments section of the video, Knowles said they usually catch "a ton" of breeders, however, most of them are usually "already notched."

If a fisherman is caught harvesting tagged breeder lobsters, it can lead to "fines and potential loss of license," Knowles said in another comment.

In a previous video posted by Knowles, the fisherman said the water is still cold at this time of year, meaning the fishing season will be "pretty slow" until it warms up. American lobsters migrate to the coastal waters off Maine in the spring as the warmer temperatures help them to grow. This migration is the best time of year for fishermen to catch lobsters as it is when the crustaceans are most active.

Newsweek has contacted Jacob Knowles for comment.

Lobster eggs
A photos shows another pregnant lobster caught in Maine. They have to be notched to make sure they are not harvested in future. Joe Raedle/Getty Images