Press Herald interviews Wahle about research on baby lobsters in deep water

The Portland Press Herald interviewed Richard Wahle, a professor in the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences and director of UMaine’s Lobster Institute, for an article about his recent research on settlement of juvenile lobsters. The American Lobster Settlement Index, a program hosted by Wahle’s lab, has monitored the number of baby lobsters that settle on the ocean floor every year since 1989. Concerns about declining settlements of baby lobsters in warmer, shallow water monitored sites prompted researchers to address the question of whether or not this was a sign of declining health for the lobster fishery, according to the article. “We couldn’t find the settlers. Increasingly, we found they weren’t showing up where we had always found them,” said Wahle. But there was no corresponding decline in the catch, leading Wahle to search elsewhere for answers. Wahle’s recent research shows that baby lobsters appear to be moving to deep-water habitat instead. While they usually are found at test sites 32 feet deep, they have now been found more than 250 feet below the ocean surface, and many more in waters off the coast of Cutler than in Casco Bay, the Press Herald reports. “Eastern Maine used to be a settlement desert,” said Wahle. “Not anymore.” And while computer models have predicted a 40 to 62 percent decline in the population of lobsters in the Gulf of Maine in the next 30 years, the newly discovered deep-water settlements suggest the population is much healthier. Wahle said he needs to collect more data in the coming years to confirm his theory about the migrating baby lobsters. The research was funded by Maine Sea Grant and later, by Ready Seafood Co., the article states. The Associated Press, Undercurrent News and Maine Public also reported on Wahle’s research; U.S. News & World Report and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer carried the AP report. Wiscasset Newspaper published a UMaine news release about the research.