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Back Cover - The Life of the Lobster

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1974/3/1 (976 reads)

Civilized man is sweeping off the face of the earth one after another some of its most interesting and valuable animals, by a lack of foresight and selfish zeal un? worthy of the savage. If msin had as ready access to the submarine fields as to the forests and plains, it is easy to imagine how much havoc he would spread....We are apt to forget that marine animals may be as restricted in their distribution as ter? restrial forms, and as nicely adjusted to their environment....The American lobster occupies only a narrow strip along a part of the North Atlantic coast (a strip of a- bout 1300 miles from Labrador to Deleware, 30 to upward of 50 miles wide and from 1 to more than 100 fathoms), and while it is probably not possible to exterminate such an animal, it is possible to so reduce its nurabers that its fishing becomes unprofi? table, as has already been done in many places. • Francis Hobart Herrick, 1895 The Life of the Lobster Hatching from Egg & 1st Larval Stage The American lobster, Homarus americanus. is a tough, battling creature who begins life as a heliotropic animal, rising from its mother on the ocean floor and free- swimming through its first 5 or 6 larval stages near the surface of the sea, staying close to the top when the sun is shining and then descending to varying depths when the sky is clouded or dark. It looks very little like the lobster it will become, and it swarms to the surface in incredible numbers completely at the mercy of sur? face-feeding fjish and probably certain birds. Herrick figured that survival of 2 in 10,000 would be adequate to support the species. The larval lobster will eat any? thing of a size it can manage that floats near, including its own kind. Herrick: "Their pugnacious instinct is undoubtedly strongest immediately after hatching.... Like the young of most pelagic (open ocean) organisms, they can not bear crowding, either in vertical or horizontal limits....(In aquaria) the aggressive lobster usu? ally tried to sieze his fellow by the small of the back or between the carapace and abdomen, using for weapons the walking appendages, chiefly the first three pairs. He was soon astride the back of his victim, and dragged him to the bottom of the jar, where he began to devour him." We are speaking here of a creature a little more than a third of an inch in length, bearing great black eyes and looking more like a louse than a lobster. In the fourth larval stage it resembles an adult lobster, and a molt or two more and it descends to the ocean floor. Its activity now is quickened more by darkness and temperature. It searches out food and apparently mates at night, and what have been taken by some as migrations north and south are really a movement in-

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