lobster breeding programme

Lobster Breeding success at Aquarium SEA LAB.

In it’s third season of operation, with the lobster hatchery hive systems running well, a significant number of juveniles were released back into the wild on August 8th 2017

From egg to release time is a short period (8 – 12 weeks) in Summer. The following pictures show how this year’s lobster    babies, nurtured here in SEA LAB were taken back  and released at Ravenglass, this is the area where the females with eggs, called berried lobsters, were caught. We have 2 local fishermen with a license from DEFRA to catch and land female berried lobsters which otherwise is illegal.

A                                           B

Here in SEA LAB we witness final lobster egg development (A), then nurture them through a free swimming larval stage (B&D).  After a  couple of weeks in stacked trays in our ‘lobster hive’ (C)they are ready to go back to the wild. See how this is done next!

C                                                D

Lobster release day 08/08/17

7am.  Outside The Aquarium. Our Van packed with 1000 juvenile lobsters reared in our hatchery ready to go to Ravenglass for release.

 

9am. Ravenglasss. Lobster fisherman Frank with tender loaded with all gear ready to embark for his fishing boat as tide turns.

 

The Lobster fishing boat has twin 75 hp motors to speed us out of the estuary to fishing grounds. This is where the lobster eggs were sourced about two months ago. We ‘borrowed’ the females until the eggs hatched, they were then returned back here.

 

9.30 am. Leaving the picturesque Ravenglass estuary behind we head out to the fishing grounds. By releasing youngsters on known good habitat increases their survival chances dramatically.


10.30 am and we are ready to start the release.  GPS  allows Frank to put his boat precisely over good ground for the young lobsters, in this case stony ground with plenty of kelp. These little lobsters will rapidly orientate when they emerge at the end of the release pipeline and find shelter from predators.

Juvenile lobsters still in their hatchery trays are transported out in a large white bin.
Now for the exciting bit!

The trays are shaken into a large poly bag so that they are then easily poured into the release hopper fixed to the gunwale.

 

The stainless steel release  hopper has a 20m green hose to drain the contents out through the scuppers  to the sea bed. The deck wash hose ensures every one  goes!

 

The 20m green hose has a weighted end so  as the boat drifts along the baby lobsters are distributed into the kelp forest to start their adult lives.  This is the surface view.
11.30 am, job done.  About 1000 juveniles released, good luck to them all!

  This is the view from the surface about  half a mile off shore From Eskmeals.

 

Contrast the size of the juvenile about to be released and an adult female landed shortly afterwards. She is already carrying eggs for hatching next year so is returned to the sea by the fisherman as the law demands.
Next Spring we may ‘borrow’ her to help with juvenile survival rate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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