Green Lobsters with Strange Meat

Question: A buddy of mine got two lobsters in San Diego Bay over the weekend. While he was cleaning them he noticed green algae on their shells and then found the meat to be white, looking like it was already cooked. Both lobsters were still alive when detailing them. Have you heard any other stories like this? Would they have still been okay to cook and eat? (Ray C., San Diego)

Answer: According to our lobster experts Kristine Barsky and Doug Neilson, when you find a lobster with algae on its shell (exoskeleton) it usually means it hasn’t molted in quite awhile. This should be nothing to worry about though. An animal getting ready to molt pulls salts out of its existing shell and creates a soft exoskeleton underneath it that will expand with water and salts once the animal molts. Our best guess is that the old exoskeleton may have been overgrown and what your friend encountered (white, cooked-looking meat) could have been the new exoskeleton just under the old making the meat look differently. As long as the animal was acting normally and still alive before he got ready to cook it, there was probably no problem with the meat.

One test seafood businesses use when cooking whole lobsters is whether they curl. The shell should turn to a darker red color and the tail tends to curl (not tightly, but it’s difficult to lay the animal flat). If there’s no curl, they discard the animal.

How to Revive Stripped Bass
While fishing the Sacramento deep water channel last winter we caught a number of large stripers but were unable to revive and release them, even after working to revive them for extended periods of time. Water temperatures were cold and there was no current so the oxygen level was probably low. Do you have any suggestions on how to revive these fish? (D. Bell, Sacramento)

Answer: According to Environmental Scientist Heather McIntire, dissolved oxygen levels in cold water are actually higher than oxygen levels in warm water. So, oxygen was not likely the issue.

In talking with other biologists who are also avid anglers, the consensus is that stripers do not tend to recover well from stress after such a hard fight or when confined in live wells. In addition, environmental factors such as food availability (which may be limited in winter) or pollutants could weaken their ability to respond to stressors.

Despite your valiant efforts to revive the striped bass, the fish you caught last winter appear to have been too physiologically stressed to be able to recover.

Is a License Required to do Catch-and-Release Fishing?
I am interested in fishing both freshwater and saltwater but plan to do only catch-and-release fishing. Will I still need a license if I’m fishing only for fun and not keeping any of the fish I catch? Thanks! (Josh)

Answer: The answer is YES! You will need to buy a license even for catch-and-release fishing. You must have a fishing license to engage in the act of fishing regardless of whether you intend to keep fish or not. “Take” is defined in the regulations as even the “attempt to pursue or take” a fish or animal.

I’ve Lost My Hunter Safety Certificate, What Do I Do?
I took the hunter safety course in El Dorado County in 1984 but now can’t find my hunter safety certificate. Are there any records to show that I have completed the course so that I can get a new hunting license and not have to retake the course? (Brandon G.)

Answer: According to Hunter Education Coordinator Lt. James Kasper, you should first try to contact the hunter education instructor who issued your certificate so that they can issue you a duplicate certificate. If you cannot remember your hunter education instructor, we can check our databases, although the data going back that far may be limited. Your regional Department of Fish and Game (DFG) office should have access to the databases and be able to check for your name. If your name is found in the database, we can issue you a duplicate hunter education certificate for a small fee ($5). If your name is not found in the database, then you will need to take the hunter education course again. If you have an old California hunting license from a previous year, you may present it as proof of course completion to obtain a new hunting license.

Do You Have to Keep Your Fishing License on You if Spearfishing?
If I am spearfishing from the shore and return with my take, do I need to have my fishing license on my person or can it be in my car? (William H.)

Answer: Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (FGC Section 7145).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

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