What do lobsters and communities have in common?  

By Lisa Bright, 17 October 2019

Recently, I had cause to do some research into the migration habits of lobsters.

Did you know that lobsters migrate across the ocean floor in single file? Well I didn’t.

Whilst the reasons why they do this is not clear, it offered some theories which show how working together as community is the only way to go.

Their reason for migration is environmental.

So if something isn’t right, then it is time to change. They don’t sit and wait to die because they can’t cope. But they feel the change, know they have to adapt and off they go.

When they march, they march in single file. This is called ‘queuing’.

Again, not known exactly why, but some suggestions are:

“Migrating queues suffer attacks during daylight. When threatened, lobsters assemble into outward facing, rosette-like groups, remain coherent in their spacing, and defend themselves by parrying with their spinous antennae. Solitary lobsters were subdued 44% of the time whereas grouped lobsters suffered only minor bites.”[1]

So, if we do things as a community, in collaboration, then we have more chance of getting to where we need to go alive.

“Individual lobsters line up in a single file…with each resting its long antennae over the carapace (something regarded as a protective or defensive covering) of the individual in front…”[2]

Lobsters are sensitive to touch. Their shell is covered in tiny hairs which increases the sensitivity. As the lobsters are queuing, as a community they protect and support each other, especially their most vulnerable and sensitive part of themselves. As a community we should automatically be protecting each other, especially the most vulnerable. It’s not an option, it’s a given. As we travel together, we have each other’s backs. Protecting others and safeguarding – creating safe spaces everywhere – becomes part of our DNA.

“…to increase laminar flow (following a smooth path) and reduce drag (conserves energy)”[3]

When we work together, when we dialogue together we move to where we need to be more effectively. It isn’t necessarily about the speed but the quality of the movement.

The transformation for the lobster is huge because they are moving from rough waters to calmer waters. We may begin from a place that is rough and choppy but with a movement through dialogue, whilst a community may not agree with other, they move to a space of calmer waters where an effective dialogue can take place.

We can learn much from the migration habits of lobsters. If they can move in community like this, why can’t we?

Lisa Bright is a Project Officer in the Pastoral Planning Office, Diocese of Parramatta.


[1] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00288330909509978

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/spiny-lobster

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/spiny-lobster



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