Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

"Louis", the Lobster - ageing a lobster and the techniques behind it

By now, everybody in the Netherlands heard about "Louis", the Lobster. The lobster, supposed to be 80-years old, was saved from becoming dinner by a restaurant chef who felt sorry for the animal and wanted to keep it alive in an aquarium. Unfortunately, it died in its new home a few weeks later. Now the question arises, did Louis really make it to the 80 years? And how do you age an animal that is changing its outer body all the time?

Shortly after the death of the almost one meter big lobster, the NIOZ was asked to help age the animal. A supposedly easy question, but it turns out to be a hard one. Within NIOZ, there is no experience with determining the age of lobsters or other crustaceans. We are therefore looking for a MSc student with a background in aquaculture or biology who is interested in doing a research project (either as internship or master thesis) to explore and test the various possibilities of ageing crustaceans, with in the end the goal to determine the age of "Louis".  


Set up a protocol for determining the age of crustaceans, and specifically lobsters.
1. Literature study on how this is being done in other research groups.
2. Test methods on a number of crustaceans and decide on the best possible method to apply to "Louis".
3. Set up a protocol that can be used for ageing crustaceans/lobsters in the future.
4. Determine the age of "Louis".

Foreseen output

Written report (or master thesis) on experimental results, work protocol that can be used for ageing crustaceans/lobsters, Louis’ age.


NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Landsdiep 4, ‘t Horntje, Texel


6 months

Contact persons

Dr. Rob Witbaard,
Loran Kleine Schaars,