Lobster Cannibalism: Crustaceans Starting To Eat Each Other, Probably Because Of Climate Change

Why Are Lobsters Starting To Eat Each Other?

Pity the young lobster. In addition to keeping a watchful eye out for the regular motley crew of predators, they now need to watch out for mom and dad as well.

Although lobsters have been known to assault and eat each other in captivity — not a surprising reaction given the conditions – marine biologists have recently observed an unprecedented degree of lobster cannibalism taking place in the wild.

Noah Oppenheim, a biologist studying the New England marine ecosystem, was the first to record the new development by setting up a camera trap using a young lobster as bait, reports The Independent.

When the same kind of experiments were conducted 20 years ago, other fish would feed on the bait; now, it’s adult lobsters that are swooping in and making mincemeat of their young. After repeated experiments, scientists concluded that juvenile lobsters were 90 percent more likely to be attacked and eaten by adult lobsters than by any other type of fish.

Oppenheim believes that rising water temperatures are to blame; over the past decade, the average temperature in the coastal water there has been 50.7 degrees Fahrenheit, a significant increase above the century average of 47.6 degrees.

“As the water temperatures elevate, lobsters both become more fecund,” said Oppenheim, speaking to James West of Climate Desk. “They reproduce more frequently and with larger broods and they grow more rapidly. If we enjoy eating lobsters perhaps other lobsters enjoy eating lobsters too.”

Climate Desk reports on the crustacean chaos in the video below. (Warning: includes graphic lobster-eating-lobster content.)

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