The Coastal Packet: Study finds baby lobsters won't do well in warmer water

Thursday, September 29

Study finds baby lobsters won't do well in warmer water

Eco Watch -  new study from the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science found that baby lobsters won't survive in warmer waters.

Southern New England lobster fisheries have already collapsed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reports that over the past 10 years, the Gulf of Maine has warmed 99 percent faster than any other sea in the world. As a result, cod have virtually disappeared from the region. Lobster, like cod, are a cold water species.

A new study, published today in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, ... found that when the water was 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than currently found in the Gulf of Maine, these baby lobsters "experienced significantly lower survival." Five degrees is how much the the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects the Gulf of Maine's temperature will warm by the end of the century.

Maine's waters have long yielded large amounts of high-quality lobster. But as southern New England lobsters went into decline, the industry in northern New England flourished. The lobster population in the Gulf of Maine doubled in the past 20 years. In 2015, Maine lobstermen landed a record $495.4 million, or 121.1 million pounds.

... Now, warm-water species are appearing off the shores of Maine. Squid, sea bass, green crabs and Asian shore crabs are among the invasive species. They've destroyed eel grass and created ecological impacts that have yet to be determined. The University of Maine study showed that baby lobsters grow faster in warmer waters but don't survive as well. That could mean that Maine's lobsters will migrate north in search of colder Canadian waters.

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