Ottawa to Bar Harbor Part 7: Lobsters!

I’ve never been a huge lobster fan. Part of it is the fact that you must cook them live (let alone the supposed scream factor.) I remember my brother, quite young, being invited over to someone’s house for a lobster dinner. They put the lobster in the pot and started to cook it, and for a joke the father took the lobster back out and put it on the counter – and the lobster started to crawl away. Pretty much from hearing that story on, I wasn’t much on eating lobster.

And then there’s the whole look of them. In Australia, I’ve heard, they call them “bay bugs.” They just don’t look appetizing, ya know? *shudder*

In Maine, they take their lobster seriously. By the time we got within 30 minutes of the coast, there were lobster pounds everywhere. (A lobster pound is the coastal equivalent of Ottawa’s ubiquitous chipwagon, although instead of fries and pogos and poutine from the deep fryer, they serve boiled lobster.) Every restaurant has lobster something on the menu; even McDonalds apparently has a lobster roll. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dunkin Donuts didn’t have a honey glazed with lobster donut.

Although I couldn’t bring myself to actually eat Maine’s culinary signature dish, we did decide that it would be fun to go lobster fishing. At first, we were going to go on a whale-and-puffin watching tour, but some wise folks on Trip Advisor suggested that the whale watching tours can be long and boring (an hour or more just to travel where the whales are, and the same back again) for your average 3 and 5 year olds, not to mention the sea-sickness factor. I’m already constantly nauseous, thanks.

So we downgraded from whale watching to a lobster fishing and seal watching tour. It was a lot of fun. The trip was about an hour, and we learned about the various rules that govern the lobster fishery. Each lobsterman (pardon the term, but I’m simply not typing ‘lobsterperson’ each time) has his own unique set of colours for his buoys and is limited by the type of lobster he can catch. Pregnant females, for example, and ‘shorties’ that measure less than 5 inches, must be thrown back. They pulled up a few traps, and each trap contained at least one crab or shortie lobster, but since it was early in the season, we didn’t catch any big’uns.

They had a couple of full-size specimens in their ‘touch tank’ and they passed a couple of mature, live lobsters around for everyone to hold. Once I got hold of one and had a chance to see him eyeball-to-antennae, there was no way in hell I was going to eat one of those things. Beloved didn’t have the same reservations; he ordered ‘lazy lobster’ (lobster already divested of its shell) for dinner that very night.


They also passed around a crab and a sea cucumber, but as we watched the tour guide describing the sea cucumber it let forth a long and vigourous arc of what could only have been sea-cucumber pee, and we were all disinclined to hold it after that. Simon did hold a live starfish, apparently more properly known as a sea star, for a few minutes. I think he still has my fingerprints bruised into his forearm, so tightly was I holding his arm to make sure he neither (a) pitched it overboard, (b) dropped it, or – worst of all – (c) tried to actually make me touch it. Did you know that a starfish sea star opens clams by suckering on to them with its tentacles, then pries it open just enough to stick its stomach into the clam shell to begin digesting the meat? Ick. No really, ick.

Personally, I liked the seal watching a lot better than the creatures with the antennae and the tentacles. There was one rock shelf in particular known as “puppy ridge” or something like that, and we could see a dozen or so harbour seals frolicking about in the water and sunning themselves on the rocks. We also saw a couple of bald eagles, and the bald eagles’ nest. Did you know that not only do they mate for life, but their nests can weigh more than 2,000 lbs? That’s a hell of a condo!


(You can see the eagle flying low over the water to the far left.)

After our boat tour through the gorgeous glassy blue seas (no seasickness today!), we ambled back to our motel for a bit and let the boys chase each other around the playground to shake out some pent up silliness. Then we made our way back downtown – I’m telling you, the Island Explorer Shuttle rocks! – to meet Phantom Scribbler and her family for dinner.

After dinner, not quite ready to go our separate ways even though the sun was definitely on its way down, we instead ambled kind of aimlessly toward the harbour and found ourselves on my other favourite beach. I don’t even know what this one was called, except that it seemed to be a municipal beach of sorts. I didn’t even realize it was a beach until I saw the signs permitting swimming, because it was right on the main harbour. There, in the dying light of another gorgeous day, we threw rocks into the waves and picked through the tiny rocks underfoot for pretty shells and bits of sea glass. That, and watching the four kids run blissfully through the nearby park (complete with fountain and Jesus singers with a guitar, to whom Simon in particular seemed drawn) made for a perfect end to another lovely day.

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

4 thoughts on “Ottawa to Bar Harbor Part 7: Lobsters!”

  1. The last time I was on MDI, Taxman & I did the whale watching tour…and saw ZERO whales. They even refunded 1/2 of our money, but what a bummer!
    The lobsters and seals sound like a great alternative.

  2. The last time I was on MDI, Taxman & I did the whale watching tour…and saw ZERO whales. They even refunded 1/2 of our money, but what a bummer!
    The lobsters and seals sound like a great alternative.

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