Human Journey

Cannibal Lobsters!

Lobsters, like this one from Monhegan, cannibalize each other in the wild. Photo by Rhian Waller.

 

The humble Maine Lobster has been exposed as a cannibal. University of Maine graduate student Noah Oppenheim and advisor Dr. Rick Wahle presented work at “The American Lobster in a Changing Ecosystem” symposium in Portland, Maine this last week, that showed lobsters prey on themselves in the wild. This phenomena had been seen in captivity, but recent experiments with cameras and tethered lobsters have shown this also happens in the wild. Is this a new behavior or one just not spotted before? It’s hard to tell, but populations of lobster in Maine have been skyrocketing. The catch of Maine lobsters rose to 104 million pounds last year (a record), compared with 23 million pounds in 1981;  and 2012 is expected to be a bumper year too. Overfishing of species that feed on lobsters in the wild (e.g. cod and halibut) is likely to blame, and now it seems there are so many lobsters in the Gulf of Maine, they’re bumping into, and feeding, on one another. I’ll be sure to be more careful diving around them in the future……

Click to see Noah explaining his findings to the Portland Press Herald.

 

Dr. Rhian Waller is a professor of Marine Sciences at the Darling Marine Center (University of Maine, USA) and specializes in the ecology of deep-sea and cold-water organisms, particularly corals. Rhian has led or participated in over 40 international research and exploration cruises and expeditions to some of the most remote parts of the planet, and has published over 30 scientific papers and book chapters in her 9 year career. She is passionate about educating the next generation of scientists, and conserving our little known deep-sea and polar ecosystems to be studied and enjoyed in the future.

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