Twenty- to 40-pound catches could easily be more than 50 years old.
But here's what really confounds scientists: Those ancient lobsters don't show any signs of aging.
They do not slow down. They do not grow weaker. They do not become infertile. In fact, lobsters are actually more fertile in their old age.
This doesn't mean that lobsters live forever. Some wander into human traps. Some starve. Some become meals for seal or cod. But if you kept them healthy, safe, and happy, "lobsters can potentially get to be 100 years old," says Atema. "Whether they actually do, we don't know."
And we won't know for decades. Researchers have started counting lobster birthdays, but, Atema says, "we've never done it to a point where we can say 'oh yeah, here's an 85-year-old lobster.' "
How large can lobsters grow? Big! But no one knows how big.