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Lobsters are smarter than you think

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 08:47 pm
The below is from near the end of a surprisingly fascinating 10-page New Yorker reportage about lobster fishing and lobster migrations: The Lobsterman, by Alec Wilkinson (New Yorker, July 31).

Who knew? All the goings-on deep under sea? The conspiring of lobsters to cheat us, when we are trying to cheat them?

The second paragraph is a bit hard to get through, but you need it to understand the fun after it.

Quote:
Lobsters, it turns out, are not easily trapped. No one knew this until recently.

Lobster traps are built from wire coated in vinyl. Typically, they are three feet long, two feet wide, and a foot and a half tall. Each trap is divided into compartments called the kitchen and the parlor; all have one kitchen, some have two parlors. On either side of the trap is an entrance to a passageway in the shape of a funnel, made from twine that has been woven into netting. Each funnel leads to the kitchen, where the bait is. The interior end of the funnel is usually held open by a wire hoop, the size of which varies according to the fisherman's preferences. A hoop that is too wide allows young seals to stick their heads in the kitchen and steal the bait. From the kitchen a tunnel leads to the parlor, where a slot allows immature lobsters to escape. Lobstermen used to think that the traps held the rest of the lobsters prisoner.

Between 1998 and 2000, a professor of zoology at the University of New Hampshire named Winsor H. Watson III filmed lobsters in traps. Watson observed crowds of lobsters around the traps, which was unexpected. Scientists and lobsters had assumed that a solitary lobster approached a trap, entered, and was captured. Watson said that, instead, the activity around a trap was like that around an anthill. Closest to the traps were lobsters who appeared to keep others from entering. Three of Watson's videos are displayed on the University's Web site. Beneath them are the captions "Video of lobster escaping from kitchen," "Video of larger lobster chasing away smaller lobsters entering the trap and chasing a smaller lobster out of the trap" (which is my favourite), and "Video of a lobster in the kitchen preventing others from entering."

Only six per cent of the lobsters that entered the trap were caught. Seventy-two per cent of the ones who escaped left through the funnel in the kitchen, and twenty-eight per cent walked through the escape vent in the parlor. The lobsters' behavior suggested that, instead of being a means of catching lobsters, the traps were a source of food for them.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 08:56 pm
THose big mean lobsters get culled - you'd think they'd been selected right out of the gene pool.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 09:09 pm
In the Gulf of Maine at least - the big ones are thrown back.

Quote:
Another reason for [the] numbers [of lobsters] is that the fishery engages in stringent practices to protect itself.

The state requires a fisherman to buy a gauge to measure a lobster's carapace. Lobsters that are too small must be thrown back, and any large enough to be dependable breeders must be thrown back, too. Any females carrying eggs must be returned. Before dropping her overboard, lobstermen cut a small V-shaped notch in one of her fantails. Any notched female, with or without eggs, must be thrown back. Lobstermen often return as many lobsters as they keep.

Ames thinks that the reason they are so conscientious is that many of them have come to lobstering from collapsed fisheries. Lobster is the last healthy one left, and everyone agrees on the need to preserve it.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 09:18 pm
Ah, would that some members here had the native intelligence of lobsters Rolling Eyes
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blacksmithn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 09:22 pm
Would that some had their apparent selflessness...
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 09:27 pm
Sounds like the pots have become a part of lobster culture!


Do they engineer that the dumbest ones are the ones trapped?

If so, does this mean that we are creating a new super intelligent species beneath the sea?
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 11:15 pm
WTH is euro-gentrification?
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 11:17 pm
Lobster Thermidor....












nimh will 'splain, I bet.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 11:28 pm
My imoression was not that the aggressive lobster were selfless but that they were territorial - but if they throw back the big'ns, the ones who (may be the ones) who shoo away the competition, maybe that's why the lobsters are getting harder to catch......
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 01:38 am
littlek wrote:
My imoression was not that the aggressive lobster were selfless but that they were territorial - but if they throw back the big'ns, the ones who (may be the ones) who shoo away the competition, maybe that's why the lobsters are getting harder to catch......


What?
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 03:32 am
In New Jersey they drag net em and get these huge 35 pounders that they put on dicplay at seafod restaurants. Nobody can eat the big ones cause they taste like funky rubber. (SO Ive been told)

I still go down to the dock and buy from coop that has the boats just coming in and the lobster catch doesnt seem to be changing up or down.

MMMM, a good hardshell lobster steamed with butter. Sometimes, a really small hardshell , like a 1.25 pounder, does not need butter at all, its so sweet.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 07:35 am
roger wrote:
WTH is euro-gentrification?

Roger - ask cjhsa...

littlek wrote:
My imoression was not that the aggressive lobster were selfless but that they were territorial - but if they throw back the big'ns, the ones who (may be the ones) who shoo away the competition, maybe that's why the lobsters are getting harder to catch......

All I know about lobster is from this article (but then it was one of those more-than-you-ever-thought-you-wanted-to-know articles), and I dont think it said anywhere that it is getting harder to catch them - just that it's hard to catch them. At least in the traditional way - but then its fishing in the traditional way that keeps the lobster population sustainable.

Eg there doesnt seem to be a decline in lobsters caught in the Gulf - the lobster population there is positively thriving - "lobsters are more densely congregated in the Gulf of Maine than they are anywhere else in the world. In places, there are two of them for each square metre of ground; four would fit on te surface of a desk." And this is partly because of the scrupulousness of the fishermen. An excellent example of sustainable development, actually.

farmerman wrote:
In New Jersey they drag net em

That would then be an excellent example of unsustainable development.. thats how in the Gulf of Maine they only got lobster now, all the rest (cod!) having disappeared due to such industrial fishing.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 07:52 am
In re to lobster traps vs drag net fishing - so much involved in here, I really found this article fascinating, and slightly disturbing.

This is the last I'll type in from it (its not available online alas):

Quote:
During the last century, the cod's well-being was threatened more than once, but fishing boats then were smaller. They took fewer fish and left behind some that could breed. The factory ships at work today have sonar that enables their captains to track down congregations of fish. They can reach grounds that small boats couldn't, and haul bigger nets and reap heavier tows. They sweep the bottom as clean as a floor. "Those factory trawlers make one tow," Ames said, "and the crew can take a vacation for fifteen years, because nothing's coming back." Having stripped one ground, the ship moves to another. Entire populations of fish can be erased.

Fishermen tend to say that fish populations expand and contract cyclically. Ames says that this is true, but not in the sense that they're describing. "What actually happens is a species recovers, fishermen discover the recovery, and flatten it," he said. "I did the same thing [..]".

[..] The government position [when determining fish quotas], according to Ames, assumes that all fishing grounds are alike. He believes it does not adequately protect spawning areas and nursery grounds [..]. It takes no account of the interdependence of species. It treats an increase in the number of herring, say, as an opportunity to take more of them, when the increase might represent the stock on which a more desirable species - cod, for example - might feed the following year. If the herring are gone, the cod, trying to recover, might fail to thrive. [..]

Entering a wilderness, Steneck says, we tend to think that the way it looks is probably how it has always looked. Close to the coast, much of the floor of the Gulf of Maine is a kelp forest. The rest is covered by shaggy red algae that looks like carpeting. Twenty years ago, sea urchins denuded the place. Since then, the urchins have been hunted so avidly for the Japanese market that the fishery has collapsed. "If you dive now, and you have that century-long vision, what you're struck by is that the forest hasn't changed, because our best guess is that when cod were abundant they were eating all the urchins, and there were kelp forests everywhere," Steneck says. "What you're looking at today, though, is kelp in otherwise empty forests. You start to realise what's missing, and you get a chill. [..]

I asked [Ames] what he thought the gulf's future is if nothing is done to preserve it. "Slime eels and worms," he said. Then he seemed to reconsider. "The thing that the Gulf of Maine really has to impress on you is that it is part of a very dynamic process that is constantly changing," he said, "so you can never put your finger on it and say, 'This is the way it is.' We've been missing a dozen species that I know of. System-wide estimates, what the government does now, don't touch the complexity of the devastation of having a truncated population structure, of having fish caught before they can breed. The Gulf of Maine is a collection of populations, and they all need protection." [..]

"Lobster is a good example of what can happen with a fishery if you take proper care of it," Ames said. "By governing the way lobster is caught - no nets, no diving - you are using the most benign methods. The trap goes up and down, it isn't dragged, it doesn't destroy the nursery ground. You are protecting brood stock, and you're protecting juveniles. You end up with a species managed by sound criteria and protected from bottlenecks in its life cycle. If you develop a similar strategy for other species, they could thrive too. When the gulf was healthy, nothing worked very hard to get a full meal, and you could make it that way again, and you have to. Because there isn't a fishing stock in the world that can't be wiped out if it's targeted by an industrial fleet [..]."

"You need an eighty- or ninety-feet boat on Georges Bank, but not in the Gulf of Maine. If you allow into the nursery grounds a vessel that can harvest a million pounds a day, you're going to destroy the resource. It can't recover if it's gone. That's what my work is showing." [..]

"The important thing is fishing's always been an owner-operated industry - a self-made, independent survivor of a Colonial-age lifestyle - and it's being lost because of the management structure that is so opposed to the participants. Fishing is an American icon. Four thousand families around here rely on lobster for their living [..] There's logging inland and there's potato farming, but lobstering is everything on the coast. A boy can still grow up here and be poor and build himself traps and enter this profitable fishery and use it efficiently. But the seasonal round I knew as a child - cod, hake, haddock, halibut, shrimp, shark, scallop - they're gone."
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 08:10 am
I want a black velvet painting of lobsters playing pool, to hang by the Elvis.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 09:19 am
Lobster is a meat that should be served unadorned. Its delicate flavor is lost as one tries to make it into thermidor, humidor, or cuspidor. It needs only butter, and even that is optional when its young sweet and tender.
The only time lobster can be messed with is when , at a fair, one gets peckish for a "Lobster roll" which is nothing but chunks of labster meat encased in mayo and served on a bun, nothing else , no extra flavors are needed.

AND, while were at it, if lobsters are so damn smart why is it that they cost less than beef?
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 10:18 am
nimh, I wasn't refering to the article when I said they were harder to catch. I thought they were harder to catch around here - over-fished - but, maybe I am wrong.
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 11:21 am
farmerman wrote:
AND, while were at it, if lobsters are so damn smart why is it that they cost less than beef?

Maybe where you live....
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Aug, 2006 03:55 pm
littlek wrote:
nimh, I wasn't refering to the article when I said they were harder to catch. I thought they were harder to catch around here - over-fished - but, maybe I am wrong.

I dunno, I only know what I read there, I just typed out the relevant bits, see my last post. Seems they are definitely not in short supply in the Gulf of Maine, in any case
0 Replies
 
 

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