The local native lobsters (Homarus americanus) are large crustacean animals that have a hard shell on the outside of their bodies, called an exoskeleton. They have five pairs of legs, with one pair enlarged into big claws that are used to crack open food such as mussels or clams. They are an important part of the local marine ecosystem, as well as being a valuable commercial food source for people.
Shell Disease in Salem Sound
This lobster caught in Salem Sound shows signs of shell disease. Shell disease was first observed in the Northeast around the 1980’s and is commonly found on lobsters in Salem Sound . Lobsters contract this disease through bacteria entering through small pores in the lobsters shell. The bacteria cause the inner shell membrane to fuse to its self after the bacteria have entered. This fusing process prevents the lobster from molting, which in most cases leads to death. Studies have shown that a hormonal interference caused by industrial chemicals (detergents, paint and ect.) increases the chances of a lobster contracting shell disease.
Lobster Trap Fouling Study: Examining the Fouling Organisms on Lobster Traps around Salem Sound - 2010
Salem Sound Coastwatch expanded our coastal monitoring of marine invasive species to the deeper waters of Salem Sound by conducting a unique study of fouling on lobster traps in and around the Sound. Through a partnership with local commercial lobstermen, and a lot of time working on a fishing boat, fouling organisms on traps were identified and cataloged, with some very interesting results. We also began a rewarding outreach program surveying lobstermen about their experiences with trap fouling and invasive species.
Abundances of most common fouling organisms in three study areas
click to see larger version of graph.