The days may be numbered for lobster bisque, rolls, and bakes, at least in Maine. According to a new study from the University of Maine, if ocean temperatures continue to rise at the current rate, it’s likely that the state’s lobsters will be gone within 85 years, by 2100. The research, which will be published in the latest issue of ICES Journal of Marine Science, looked at how 3000 lobster larvae fared in ocean water that was five degrees above the current average for the Gulf of Maine. This spike in temperature was based on the UN’s temperature forecast for the ocean’s rising temperatures as global warming continues to take its toll on the environment.
The result of the study, unfortunately, was not very promising for the crustaceans, nor was it good news for seafood lovers. What researchers found was that, while the lobsters developed and matured at a more rapid rate in the warmer water, they had a harder time surviving than the test subjects in cooler water. Meanwhile, other variables examined, like the increased acidification of ocean water, didn’t seem to have any adverse effects on lobster survival.
While the extinction of lobsters in Maine would be a huge issue, given that the Gulf of Maine happens to be the location of America’s primary fishery, this is hardly the first time that global warming has threatened lobster populations. Jesica Waller, one of the authors of the new study, noted that there has already been major evidence of the lobster fishery crisis in New England, where Rhode Island has seen “a near total collapse” of its lobster population. In Cape Cod, the annual catch has dropped from 22 million to 3 million over the course of about 20 years.
"We are hoping this research can be a jumping-off point for more research into how lobsters might do over the next century,” said Waller, whose research she hopes may serve as a wake-up call that encourages a more urgent approach to global warming.
If you love to eat lobster, watch how to steam and crack the shell like a pro: