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From Hatch to Catch: Predicting Lobster Distribution and Abundance
02/17/2011 | Medea Steinman, (Ocean Systems)
Tags: 02.16.11 webinar, lobsters

Our ROLE Model webinars resumed last night with a topic near and dear to our hearts here in Midcoast Maine—lobsters! And we had our largest webinar attendance yet with 41 people!

Dr. Richard Wahle, based at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, has been conducting research on the American lobster for 20 years. He and his collaborators are seeking methods and tools that will successfully predict population trends of one of the most economically important fisheries in the United States. Rick’s research spans the entire life cycle of Homeras americanus, from egg to harvestable adults and beyond.

A juvenile lobster
A tiny juvenile lobster sits on a person’s fingertip. Photo by Dr. Rick Wahle, University of Maine

In the larval, pre-settlement phase, lobsters contend with many variables including: ocean circulation patterns, predators in the water column, food availability and the geography and climate where they live. For instance it turns out that the Gulf of Maine has one of the steepest temperature gradients anywhere on Earth. This gradient may help explain why Maine lobster landings are increasing while those of their kin to south are decreasing. Along with other researchers, Rick is trying to develop models that will forecast fishery recruitment. So far the models Rick and his colleagues have developed are tracking well with observed data.

Rick’s presentation describes some of the research and sampling methods that are used, including diver-based suction of juvenile lobsters (i.e., vacuuming from the sea floor). His concept map includes a variety of images, videos, data sets and charts that illustrate his research. Rick’s team also made a video (set to music) showing the epic journey of a tiny post-larval lobster as it tries to settle itself on the sea floor. A clip from this video can be found in Rick’s concept map (click on “Behavior” and select “Flight of the Post-larvae – Settlement!”). It’s very entertaining—check it out!

Dispersion patterns of larval lobsters based on model data. Harding et. al. DFO Canada
Dispersion patterns of larval lobsters based on model data. Harding et. al. DFO Canada
At the end of the webinar, short presentations were also made describing the various new educator resources available on our website and instructions for how to register to use the CMB/OCI and access concept maps and assets.

Please join us for our next webinar on March 23, 2011, featuring Drs. Karen Orcutt and Kjell Gundersen from the University of Southern Mississippi. Karen and Kjell presented a webinar last summer about oil spill impacts on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Now, nine months later, they are returning to share new data about the role microbes have played in the aftermath of the spill. [Sign up now!]

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