As members of the crustacean family, lobsters, crabs, and shrimp are all formed by three body segments (head, thorax, and abdomen) protected by a hard external exoskeleton. Lobsters are easily distinguished from their crustacean family relatives by their long bodies and large front claws.

Locally caught lobster is not widely available in California. The majority of lobsters are caught wild using one-way baited traps. While populations of wild lobster species in the Southern New England region are considered at risk and declining, American lobster populations in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank are healthy and thriving. Lobsters are not easily farmed, due to their cannibalistic nature and slow maturation. Federal laws prohibit the farming of egg-bearing lobsters and lobsters under a certain minimum size.