Searching for Answers to LI Sound Lobster Collapse

Tom Andersen wonders in his Sphere blog about why so many people, including biologists, are focusing their attention on pesticides to explain the reason behind Long Island Sound’s lobster fishery collapse. Could it be that the real reason the crustaceans are vanishing is because they can’t tolerate the warmer water temperatures.

Here’s an excerpt:

Tiny amounts of pesticides have been found in a handful of lobsters caught in Long Island Sound and tested by the Connecticut DEEP and UConn. You can read a good account of it in the Ct Mirror, HERE

It is an interesting finding, but it’s also perplexing. Researchers will now look for a cause and effect link between pesticides and the 1999 lobster die-off in Long Island Sound. But it’s not clear to me how this discovery in 2012 will lead to any conclusions about something that happened 13 years ago.

To review: There was an enormous die-off of lobsters in the Sound in 1999. The die-off coincided with the spraying of pesticides to kill mosquitoes during a West Nile outbreak. It also coincided with a period of warming water temperatures in the Sound. And it coincided with a peak in the Sound’s commercial lobster catch.

The warmer water is significant because the American lobster, Homarus americanus, is a cold-water species, and Long Island Sound is at the extreme southern end of its inshore range. In other words, before the Sound’s water started warming, water temperatures in the Sound were about as warm as lobsters could tolerate anyway.

Read the rest of Andersen’s blog HERE.


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