Climate Craziness of the Week: 'warming causing lobster cannibalism'

Most idiotic climate claim ever?

I’m pretty sure some people lay awake at night trying to come up with new ways to demonstrate that planet is going to hell in a handbasket. As I pointed out in Why climate change communications is like ‘Shaka, when the walls fell’, it’s all about imagery, not facts.

What better imagery then than turning lobsters into B-movie crustacean cannibals by making a lame-assed “experiment” that you put up on YouTube, complete with movie titles. Of course the non-thinkers are eating this right up, and they don’t even need drawn butter. Watch:

From Climate Desk:

Noah Oppenheim’s plan was simple: Rig a young lobster underneath a waterproof, infrared camera; drop the contraption overboard off the coast of Maine; and see who comes along for a bite to eat. The takers, he expected, would be fish: Cod, herring, and other “groundfish” found in these waters that are known to love a good lobster dinner. Similar experiments conducted in the 1990s showed that apart from being snatched up in one of the thousands of traps that sprinkle the sea floor here—tools of this region’s signature trade—fish predation was the principle cause of lobster death. Instead, Oppenheim, a marine biology graduate student at the University of Maine, captured footage that looks like it comes straight from the reel of a 1950s B-grade horror movie: Rampant lobster cannibalism.

First, lobsters are scavengers, so they’ll take advantage of anything that is stressed, dying, or dead. No surprises there.

Second , the fossil record of clawed lobsters extends back at least to the Valanginian Age of the Cretaceous. So of course, they’ve survived some of the warmest periods of Earth’s history.

Third, it seems there’s a hockey stick in lobsters, all while that warmth induced cannibalism is going on:


Source of data: Maine Dept. of Marine Resources.



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Eyal Porat
March 11, 2014 8:29 am

3…2…1 It’s worse than we thought!

March 11, 2014 8:32 am

This is like the superstitious dark ages where the faithful would blame/credit any given phenomenon, real or fabricated, as a manifestaion of their beliefs. What is pitiful is that the sort of anti-rational junk made up in this and far too many other stories is widely and unquestinoingly accepted.

Crispin in Waterloo
March 11, 2014 8:45 am

We all know about confirmation bias. Is there also “confirmation stupidity” involving putting baby lobsters in the path of hungry adult lobsters and then claiming warmer temperatures drive lobsters to cannibalism? And, ‘We are encouraging this’? Who’s ‘we’, white man?
Well, on the face of it I’d say they are indeed encouraging this, by putting defenseless baby lobsters in front of hungry adult ones.
Did they bother to check the temperature of the ocean to bolster their argument? What happened to the ‘control’ baby lobster in colder water? Was he eaten at a slower pace?

March 11, 2014 8:46 am

How soon until they start trying AGW skeptics as witches? Seems to be the same kind of thinking.

North of 43 and south of 44
March 11, 2014 8:48 am

Lobster eating lobster, oh my.
They have been doing that for eons, that is why they get those lovely rubber bands before being put in the holding tanks at the so called lobster pond.

March 11, 2014 8:55 am

I note that the “Climate Desk” story ends with a short paragraph saying that in order for people to survive this warming, they may have to adopt cannibalism. I guess when you have nothing useful to say, spouting nonsense squared must make sense?

March 11, 2014 8:59 am

Oh God……
What about the Earth disintegrating?

Bruce Cobb
March 11, 2014 9:01 am

Wow, who’d have thought that more lobsters could be spun as a bad thing. Amazing.
I myself don’t care much for lobster, but my wife is a lobstaholic.

Joel O'Bryan
March 11, 2014 9:03 am

My anecdotal research says 100deg C water for 15 minutes (large lobster, or 12 minutes for a medium-small lobster) is just about perfect for a Maine lobster .

Mark Bofill
March 11, 2014 9:04 am

We were at a party
His ear lobe fell in the deep
Someone reached in and grabbed it
It was a rock lobster
Rock lobster
Rock lobster
We were at the beach
Everybody had matching towels
Somebody went under a dock
And there they saw a rock
It wasn’t a rock
It was a rock lobster

Claude Harvey
March 11, 2014 9:06 am

[snip – take your ugly comments about a tragedy elsewhere – Anthony]

March 11, 2014 9:06 am

Lobsterholicism is a serious condition warranting medical intervention…..
You have my sympathies..Beware you don’t suffer excessive carer strain.
I’m just trying to help.

March 11, 2014 9:07 am

Okay, the overabundance of lobsters in Long Island Sound allowed disease transference among individuals, as they tend to gather around obstructions on the sea floor and avoid large open areas of the Sound bottom. And, at the same time, the oceans were reaching a warm peak (late 1990s) in the western LI Sound, stressing the population and making them more vulnerable to disease. LI Sound also has large influxes of fresh water and muddy runoff can decrease the dissolved oxygen content. As I describe below, that puts lobsters in LI Sound in a precarious position physiologically.
Lobsters have always eaten each other given the chance, which is why the juveniles hide from the larger lobsters, and lobsters who have just molted hid until they can harden their shells again. Quite often, if a lobster molts while in a trap or holding box, they will be eaten by the other lobsters. This is NOT NEW and NOT CUASED BY CLIMATE CHANGE.
As the climate has not warmed significantly since 1992, cooled since 2002 and actively cooled since 2006, nothing they report could possibly be caused by global warming.
A Known East Coast Ocean Cycle – at least to the lobstermen
Lobstermen have known for decades that there is 30-some year cycle to the ocean temperatures off the coast, such that lobsters are most abundant in the midrange between a warm peak and a cold trough of the 60-year temperature cycle. It makes total sense that lobsters would adapt to the middle range as that is the range in which the ocean spends the most of its time. The oceans are cooling, so lobsters are thriving as the temperature passes through their optimal range. Yes, they might grow faster when warmer, but they also need more food. The abundance is great for people who like lobsters but that also lowers the price for the fishermen and that’s just real life; it’s called market forces at play.
In the opening statements, the commentator says that lobsters carpet the sea floor. That’s just plain stupid and shows that he knows little about lobsters.
Lobsters have four main stresses in their lives. First, not getting eaten by the adults, allowing them to become adults themselves. And then there’s three physiological factors: water temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen content. They can stand fairly larger fluctuations in any one of the latter three factors, which allows them to handle intertidal environments. But, if two of these factors are already off their optimal values, a slight change in the third factor, disease, or parasite can be fatal. Imagine that their cells have a certain amount of total metabolic energy that can be devoted to handling these factors. If two are already drawing too much of this power, then a slight change in the third can overwhelm the system.
There is also the myth that lobsters migrate to deeper water in the winter. However, winter scuba diving has clearly shown that the lobsters do not go anywhere. When the water is cold, they simply move much more slowly and thus enter traps more rarely. They move so slowly, they can even build up silt on their upper surfaces.

Joel O'Bryan
March 11, 2014 9:11 am

Also, since cooking a dead lobster is really, really a bad idea, lobsters have been boiled alive since the dawn of time. Can’t wait for that to be the next PETA cause célèbre, as they already condemn it on their website.

geography lady
March 11, 2014 9:15 am

Did they check the temperature of the waters and compare to previous years? The Labrador Current comes straight down from the cold arctic waters along the Canadian coast. That water hasn’t really warmed. So what does climate change have to do with the temperature of the waters in Maine?
Also lobsters eat whatever is available. They are cannibals, so are crabs, which are known and very delicious in the Chesapeake Bay region. That is what makes the meat good! 😉

March 11, 2014 9:18 am

If the kid putting out this tripe was guided on this ‘work’ by a professor, he should sue for malpractive and get his tuition back.

March 11, 2014 9:19 am

It should also be mentioned that few lobstermen really make a good living off lobstering. Those few are called High Rollers. Most only make a few or several thousand a year from this hobby, once the boat fuel and materials are all accounted for. At least up in Maine this is the case; most lobstermen have at least one other job.
You can tell by looking out for the shore how the lobsters are doing, interns of abundance. When there are a lot of lobster buoys in the water, then lobsters are scarce as the “fishing effort” has to go up to catch the normal amount. (This was true in the late 1970s when the ocean temperatures were cool.)
When they are abundant, the number of buoys drop as there is no reason to use some much equipment to catch a reasonable amount; gear is money, save the money. (This was the 1980s to early 1990s as we warmed through the optimal temperature range.)
This up and down swing in lobster abundance has been observed for two hundred years by fishermen. An old Maine lobsterman told me about this pattern back in the late 1960s and it has held true ever since.

Tom J
March 11, 2014 9:22 am


March 11, 2014 9:22 am

Simple solution, shut down the Maine lobster industry based on one YouTube video and global warming claim. I mean if New Englanders are as serious about climate change as John Kerry and Sen. Markey, they should shut it down now as a precaution and save the planet.

John West
March 11, 2014 9:26 am

According to the precautionary principle we need to isolate cannibalistic lobsters from the human ingested harvest in order to prevent MAD LOBSTER DISEASE from infected the populace at large.

March 11, 2014 9:34 am

“So of course, they’ve survived some of the warmest periods of Earth’s history.”
Not for nothing are they called Lobster Thermidor!

Steve from Rockwood
March 11, 2014 9:35 am

In the spirit of the immortal Bugs Bunny – what a “can-o-bull”.

March 11, 2014 9:36 am

Oh noes, next they will be supersized!😉

Les Johnson
March 11, 2014 9:46 am

I see the lobster catch has gone up 6 fold since the 80s, from 20 million pounds to over 120 million.
Oddly, the industry is about to get its Sustainability certificate.
Data on other species shows some declining, some increasing, but the value is going up regardless.
Total landings is increasing over the record, and total value.

March 11, 2014 9:51 am

In line with “male polar bears eating (others) cubs” …
… still waiting for “male lions eating (others) cubs” …
This comes to mind:
* Children 3-6 may evolve phobia for imaginary things, obviously even higher ages …
* Phasmophobia – AGW and the harassment of of CO2 is a ghost hunt …
* Thermophobia – as warmth/heat is good for life …
* Gnosiophobia & Sophophobia – well, obvious and don’t need any further explanation …
* Bogyphobia – The carbon boogie man …

March 11, 2014 9:52 am

I’ve started to pinch things..helll… it must be Mad Lobster disease….Doctor..fetch me a hockey stick quick!

March 11, 2014 9:58 am

“…I shall yell tripe whenever tripe is served!” courtesy “Please, don’t eat the Daisies” as I remember the scene.

“…First, lobsters are scavengers, so they’ll take advantage of anything that is stressed, dying, or dead. No surprises there…”

Stressed, dying, dead or alive, lobsters don’t care. Just so long as it is food to lobsters. They’d eat people the same way if they got a chance. Much as lions eat their prey only lobsters are far less choosy.
“Look here!” Says the first lobster. “They’ve got two claws all tied up.”
“Well now.” Coming from lobster number two. “He’s only got one claw. Dibs on the other one.”
“Better save some of that for us. It’s only right, cause he’s our dear relation. Therefore we have right to the tail.” Said several more lobsters skittering around the corner of a rock.
“You all better drop that fresh lobster or I’ll eat all of you too.” Croaks a behemoth of a lobster scuttling over the rock.
Warmists and greens; blind and willfully ignorant as to how nature works.

uk pete
March 11, 2014 9:59 am

Latest Climate Crazy UK Daily Telegraph 11.03.14
Surfers along Australia’s East Coast have been warned by researchers that climate change is likely to cause a severe drop in the frequency of big waves. A study published in Nature Climate found that the number of days with waves of 12ft or more on the East coast would drop by around 20% over the next 30 years and by up to 40% by the end of the century.
Best sell your surfboards now while there is still a market for them.

March 11, 2014 10:02 am
“Cannibalism seems to be especially prevalent in aquatic communities, in which up to approximately 90% of the organisms engage in cannibalism at some point of the life cycle”

Alan Robertson
March 11, 2014 10:05 am

A U.S. Senator from Connecticut said during last night’s debate that all the Connecticut lobsters were smart enough to move to Maine to avoid global warming and thus ruin the local lobster industry. The genius of a Senator also moaned about the sea level rise (which has been happening at the same rate since records were kept) and the heat wave they experienced last year of 90 degree weather for a week.
We must do something to stop this.

March 11, 2014 10:06 am

I can attest to that. I used to raise tropical fish, and I would watch as the mommy fish casually ate up her babies as they swam by.

Alan Robertson
March 11, 2014 10:07 am

Oops- I called last night’s rambling on the Senate floor a debate- all apologies.

March 11, 2014 10:09 am

a marine biology graduate student….
is a total moron and doesn’t know it’s common practice to leave the undersized lobsters in the trap…
….as bait for larger ones

March 11, 2014 10:22 am

Joel O’Bryan says:
March 11, 2014 at 9:11 am
“Also, since cooking a dead lobster is really, really a bad idea, lobsters have been boiled alive since the dawn of time. Can’t wait for that to be the next PETA cause célèbre, as they already condemn it on their website.”
In Europe, PETA is on the Red List of pressure groups as Femen and the German Pirate Party compete for the exhibitionist nude women.

Berényi Péter
March 11, 2014 10:22 am

One only has to figure out how to turn lobsters into biofuel and make the stuff competitive on subsidies. Problem solved.

March 11, 2014 10:26 am

“When you were at university were the people studying meteorology or oceanography the brightest?” he asked. Maths and physics seemed to attract the most intellectually able, Lindzen observed.
“What I’m getting at is, when you’re dealing with the IPCC, is it’s manpower intensive. You heard someone mention that 58 per cent of participants are new participants. I know from my group that lots who have participated once have decided not to participate again. That’s not a bad thing per se, but in a small field where you have to keep finding people when there aren’t any … The world just doesn’t have that many ‘leading climate scientists’. So we’re inventing something.”

March 11, 2014 10:28 am

So, what’s the reason for lobster cannibalism when we’re not in a warm phase of the AMO?

March 11, 2014 10:36 am

Joel O’Bryan says:
March 11, 2014 at 9:11 am
I tried cooking a lobster in the microwave oven once. It doesn’t heat the central nervous system fast enough, and I apologized to the lobster all through dinner. I boil water an inch or two deep, add some salt and allspice, and put the lobsters in head first and upside down.

March 11, 2014 10:43 am

Tom J says:
March 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

March 11, 2014 11:00 am

Come on you guys, think of the children
think of the lobsters
think of the lobsters children

Noah Oppenheim
March 11, 2014 11:01 am

Hello, this is Noah Oppenheim, the scientist featured in the Climate Desk video you have reviewed here. I am happy to answer any legitimate questions you or your readers might have about this study.
The key result of my investigations into predation on juvenile lobsters in the subtidal areas of the Gulf of Maine is that young lobsters are now being cannibalized in the wild frequently enough to be detected in a tethering study, whereas they were not being cannibalized frequently enough to be detected in a similar tethering study twenty years ago. That is a demonstrable fact, peer reviewed by renowned scientists and published in the scientific literature.
Now, let’s examine what has happened in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Maine (where young lobsters live) in that same period of twenty years. Firstly, the temperature has increased significantly, particularly in the shallower waters where many younger lobsters spend their early development. This has resulted in increased population abundance, as you have correctly noted in your Maine landings figure, which in turn means that lobsters will encounter each-other more frequently as they search for food. Secondly, a vast majority of the predatory groundfish (which are known to prey on lobsters) in the inshore waters of Maine have been overfished or have moved elsewhere. This also results in increased lobster populations, but it also means that larger lobsters are less threatened by predators and will search for food over a greater area, also increasing their encounter rates. As a result of these two ‘forces’ on lobster populations, there are both more lobsters in the water than ever before, and the increased probability of encounters between them leads to cannibalism at levels that were not previously detectable.
Nobody is arguing that lobsters are not cannibalistic until temperatures reach a certain threshold. Nobody is arguing that lobsters will cannibalize themselves into extinction. I am not sure how your or your readers came to those conclusions based on the Climate Desk video. If you or your readers are interested in reading a more technical description of the phenomena being summarized in the video I recommend reading my scientific paper entitled “Cannibals by night? In situ video monitoring reveals diel shifts in inter- and intra-specific predation on the American lobster” (it can be found here:
In reference to the three points you made in the text of your blog post:
1) Lobsters are opportunistic scavengers as well as predators. However, as I noted above, their abundance and foraging behavior were most likely limited in the past such that cannibalism was not detected in any previous experiments.
2) The American lobster, one of several species of clawed lobsters, has a demonsted upper temperature threshold (called the Arrhenius break point) of around 19-20 degrees C, above which they cannot survive for long. The fact that other, extinct clawed lobster species have been capable of surviving in higher temperatures in the prehistoric past is completely irrelevant.
3) It is true that lobster populations in Maine have increased significantly. The rate of this increase is likely far greater than any increases in predation rates due to cannibalism. However, again, this does not alter the fact that the predation of juvenile lobsters by larger lobsters in the wild is a newly discovered phenomenon.
Many interesting questions arise from this research: to what degree does temperature as opposed to fish population declines influence the cannibalistic behavior of lobsters? Would circumstances exist where lobster populations could decline due to cannibalism? What was the actual frequency of lobster cannibalism in the wild twenty years ago?
I would encourage the debate about this issue to focus on relevant questions that deal with established facts. I hope this response has clarified some of these questions for you and your readers.
REPLY: Thanks for your update. Did you also notify some of the news organizations that are pushing this in the meme of being caused by global warming, or is this the only story you are objecting to? Feel free to provide links to your similar complaints elsewhere.
As to your question about how we came to certain conclusions about the paper being warming related, note the subtitle on the Climate Desk story:

In warming seas, even lobsters think lobster is delicious.

As for the video, if you don’t want people to treat it like some ridiculous sci-fi B-movie, then don’t allow Climate Desk to make such videos representing your work as such. You participated, and are thus culpable in the production of it. – Anthony

March 11, 2014 11:09 am

Interesting interpretation. They set out bait, call it prey, film it, and call the result science.
How much has the sea warmed there and over what period? If you set out bait in areas where the sea has not warmed does this repeat? Is it known that the earlier study also set out bait in this way, and did anyone take note of the fish and lobster populations then and now? There are advantages in numbers. Are there studies that show lobster are not normally cannibalistic? Are lobsters attracted to any other lobster that appears to be struggling? Did this or any previous studies establish the availability of food preferred by lobster was available in equal proportions? Is it possible that lobsters will attack other lobsters that are not part of the local gene pool? That is to say, farmed lobsters may appear to be a threat or tasty to native lobsters but may not appear to be lobsters owing to characteristics of the introduced critter.
Is it not bad practice to introduce non-native specimens into an established population?
Epic fail.

Gunga Din
March 11, 2014 11:27 am

I hope they don’t all decimate themselves.
Hansen said that someday we’d all be able to get boiled lobster right off the boat.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore fan
March 11, 2014 11:31 am

No one has mentioned Derek and Clive
Worst job i ever had was Lobsters and actress Raquel Welsh’s bottom
Please dont look it up on youtube it is very rude but very funny

March 11, 2014 11:31 am

Noah Oppenheim,
This site is the multiple winner of the Weblog Awards for the internet’s “Best Science & Technology” site. Thousands of readers visit here every week, so it is good to have your input.
In the interest of credibility, I would be interested in knowing if you have notified any other news organizations, as Anthony asked. Have you made other complaints like the one above? Any links would be appreciated.
Many of us are getting very tired of the false implication that ‘global warming’ is the cause of every biological event. In this instance, you are taking a strictly regional temperature fluctuation, and implying sweeping generalizations. For your information, such local changes occur all the time. It would be very unusual, if not unprecedented, if there were not local changes over time in all temperate latitudes.
Sorry if this is goring your ox, but this ‘study’ appears to be ridiculous and unnecessary. What would be unusual would be a clear statement by you that this is an example of regional climate variability, abetted by changes in fishing. Human emissions have nothing to do with it.
Why not stand out from the crowd, and state explicitly that your findings fit in with natural variablility? Because that is a fact. But if, by your silence, the belief in human-caused global warming is allowed to remain, then you are part of the problem.

March 11, 2014 11:32 am

They showed a video about a disease that hurt lobsters in 1988 in CT and claimed that the lobsters never returned. Then, they show a “pulse” of a lobster boom that started in CT.
The entire video was obviously nonsense.

March 11, 2014 11:37 am

Noah Oppenheim says:
The key result of my investigations into predation on juvenile lobsters in the subtidal areas of the Gulf of Maine is that young lobsters are now being cannibalized in the wild frequently enough to be detected in a tethering study, whereas they were not being cannibalized frequently enough to be detected in a similar tethering study twenty years ago. That is a demonstrable fact, peer reviewed by renowned scientists and published in the scientific literature.

Thanks, Noah. Can you link to the two tethering studies? Yours and the one from twenty years ago? I’d love to compare the statistical methods (e.g. the number of tetherings in each study, the estimated number of lobsters per square foot in each study, etc.) and video technology used.

March 11, 2014 11:40 am

It would have been better if you said the truth, that you have a BA and are a grad student.
You are not a scientist. You may have done sciencey stuff, but certainly making a cheesy misleading video would not count as science, would it?
As to stating that it is AGW that has caused your being able to use lobsters as bait for lobsters, I would ask you to offer us specifics, like how warm the waters have gotten. And a history of water temps in the region. and a linkage between CO2 and the warming.
Instead you offer up bits of old B movies and some inflammatory optics.
As any lobster knows, if you can’t stnd the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

March 11, 2014 11:43 am

So what you saying is that your experiment had proven that when lobsters meet they probably going to do some nasty things to reach other, is that right?
You could have saved yourself a lot of work by simple buying 2 of them in a store, taking the bands off and putting them in a fish tank.
You have not proven anything else.
You are implying that lobster cannibalism is something new and in cold weather lobsters wouldn’t eat each other – and it’s a complete garbage.
You say predation of juvenile lobsters by larger lobsters in the wild is a newly discovered phenomenon.
First, tying up a lobster for others to eat is not “in the wild”.
Second, this is absolutely not a new phenomenon – as a scuba diver in MA, I became aware of common knowledge that lobsters do eat each other in the wild given opportunity. That was about 15 years ago.
Lobsters always thought and always will think that lobster is delicious.

March 11, 2014 11:45 am

Darn, hit submit too quickly.
Somehow, I seriously doubt if your assertion that juvenile lobsters were not tasty morsels for mature lobsters prior to the age of AGW will hold up under scrutiny. I do find your work an interesting case study on the powers of the AGW meme to shape the perceptions of even intelligent people so that they in effect live out the old proverb about how the man with only a hammer sees all problems as nails.

Gunga Din
March 11, 2014 11:52 am

Noah Oppenheim says:
March 11, 2014 at 11:01 am
Hello, this is Noah Oppenheim, the scientist featured in the Climate Desk video you have reviewed here. I am happy to answer any legitimate questions you or your readers might have about this study……

Thank you for commenting here.
Please take what you read here as “blog-review”. Because of how this will be used by some to somehow blame Man for it (CAGW and all that), you will take some “pot shots”. (And Anthony’s reply is a valid point.)
But there are many smart and educated people here that will have valid and honest questions and/or observations concerning the paper. Consider them.
(And maybe get a chuckle from a few of the “pot-shots”.8-)

March 11, 2014 11:53 am

However, as I noted above, their abundance and foraging behavior were most likely limited in the past such that cannibalism was not detected in any previous experiments
So you’re saying that lobster fishermen did not leave smaller illegal lobsters in the traps as bait for larger lobster…..20 years ago
The gulf of Maine had a huge population of cod….which eat small lobsters…..the cod disappeared when the dams were built…cutting off the cods food supply
Either the person/s that did that study 20 years ago are total morons…or they were pursuing a different agenda …
At least this admits the lobster population has rebounded….

Alan Robertson
March 11, 2014 12:09 pm

Noah Oppenheim says:
March 11, 2014 at 11:01 am
Thanks for your input, Mr. Oppenheim. It is very satisfying to me and many others that you have chosen to comment here.
40 years ago, I visited a Maine Nat’l Park and was told by a Park Ranger that a lobster’s favorite food is lobster. Every time I see lobsters in a tank at the supermarket, I remember that Ranger’s lecture. It’s interesting that you captured a predation event on video. That Maine lobstermen are having to work harder for less money is a phenomenon shared across the nation. The Climate Change rhetoric used in your video is disconcerting, as the aim of those promoting the entire concept is to further reduce our money and our freedoms through increased government taxation and control.

Bruce Cobb
March 11, 2014 12:16 pm

Noah Oppenheim says:
March 11, 2014 at 11:01 am
Nobody is arguing that lobsters are not cannibalistic until temperatures reach a certain threshold. Nobody is arguing that lobsters will cannibalize themselves into extinction. I am not sure how your or your readers came to those conclusions based on the Climate Desk video.
Nobody here is arguing those things either, so those are just straw men on your part.
I would encourage the debate about this issue to focus on relevant questions that deal with established facts.
What’s to debate? Localized seawater temperatures have risen, and that, combined with a drop in groundfish populations has resulted in higher lobster populations as well as higher incidences of lobster canibalism, which is exactly what one would expect to happen. You can’t come to any conclusions from that as to what might happen in the future, and to speculate is unscientific. Additionally, the focus on lobster canibalism appears to be simply sensationalism, since there is no reason to think it will affect lobster populations, other than perhaps to stabilize them.

March 11, 2014 12:17 pm

I do hope someone is compiling all the craziness to lay out for posterity when the alarmist-opportunists are more fully exposed as in the combined PDO-AMO-solar cycle declines. More detailed historical accounts are always better than summaries and distortions by historians and journalists.

Tom J
March 11, 2014 12:29 pm

‘Hello, this is Noah Oppenheim, the scientist featured in the Climate Desk video you have reviewed here. I am happy to answer any legitimate questions you or your readers might have about this study.’
What fuel did you use in those outboard motors on your boat?

Tom J
March 11, 2014 12:33 pm

‘Hello, this is Noah Oppenheim, the scientist featured in the Climate Desk video you have reviewed here. I am happy to answer any legitimate questions you or your readers might have about this study.’
Instead of using the motorboat for your research could you not have used a wind powered sailboat instead? After all, that’s what we’re being expected to use for our electricity.

March 11, 2014 12:40 pm

Since when is a grad student with a BA a ‘scientist’? Noah has a BA from Reed College and is in grad school back in Maine.
He is an author. Not a scientist. My daughter, who is in a Masters program and authors/co-authors papers, would roll her eyes at any pretentious grad student claiming to be a ‘scientist’.
And this paper/cheesy video, misleading people into thinking that lobster cannibalism is new or driven by CO2 is most certainly not science.

March 11, 2014 12:59 pm

I’m pretty confident that I could create a model to predict global warming rates based upon changes in fish and lobster populations. But I would probably add a correction factor using a time series analysis of the dog crap that my springer spaniel left in the yard over the long, cold winter.

Bugs Man
March 11, 2014 1:19 pm

Catching Big Fish (or lobsters) for Dummies:
Net a small fish
Stick a hook through its tail avoiding the spine. Use as live bait.
Catch a larger fish.
Works every time. I demonstrated this to one of my sons on a river in southern England. In 20 mins we went from a 1oz tiddler to an 8oz fish. Admittedly we can only do this during the coarse fishing season (i.e NOT between 15/3 & 14/6), so no data available re catch rates versus rising fresh water temps.
Scaled up, the same technique will also work with lion cubs presented to new alpha-male lions. The most appropriate conclusion is simply that nature is cruel.

Terry Comeau
March 11, 2014 1:23 pm
March 11, 2014 1:31 pm

Noah: I don’t get your complaint, you claim that warmer waters produce more lobsters, one would think that this would be a good thing, but even if true it can’t go on indefinitely, because here in Florida there are no lobsters because the water is too warm. But then you suggest that too many lobsters is a bad thing because lobstermen are not getting paid enough. First consumers here in Florida sure aren’t under paying for lobsters. Second you totally ignore the effect of market controls. An increase in the supply of lobsters will cause a decrease in the price which will cause an increase in consumption and thus lead to a decrease in the supply of lobsters. I don’t see the problem.

Political Junkie
March 11, 2014 1:36 pm

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore fan – we maintain high standards for accuracy here:
It’s Jayne Mansfield with the lobsters in the posterior problem, NOT Raquel Welch.
Perhaps they both swam at Malibu. But Jayne is the victim immortalized by Derek and Clive.

March 11, 2014 1:40 pm

Noah Oppenheim says:
March 11, 2014 at 11:01 am
Now, let’s examine what has happened in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Maine (where young lobsters live) in that same period of twenty years. Firstly, the temperature has increased significantly,
Are you cherry picking to get this “significant increase”? Twenty years ago..1994.. was almost the exact same temperature…..
Here’s the SST’s for the Gulf of Maine since ~1980
..and summer temps…July-Sept…..have been decreasing for the past 100 years
There has been no significant increase…..unless you cherry pick the past 20 years…which you did

March 11, 2014 1:40 pm

Noah said “I am happy to answer any legitimate questions you or your readers might have”, but he seems to have disappeared. There are lots of legitimate questions here, and we would like to hear Noah’s responses to them.
If Noah decides to answer our questions, he should be aware that this venue is not a kissy-face pal review forum. Here, he must run the gauntlet of true peer review. That is not taking the easy path.
That is entirely a good thing, because whatever remains standing after all objections have been answered amounts to real science. Far too often people like Briffa, Trenberth, Mann, Hansen, and many others get a free pass. That only results in Bad Science. Pseudo science. Really it is anti-science, and it is the bane of honest knowledge.
Noah’s feet are being held to the fire here. That is uncomfortable. Either he will pass muster, or he is just another catastrophic AGW cult member, taking the easy way out by mindlessly blaming human activity for what is most likely natural variability. It will be interesting which path Noah takes. Personally, I hope he decides to engage. He will be a much better man for it.
Right now, the ball is in Noah’s court…

March 11, 2014 1:50 pm

Noah has no doubt run away.
That he did not bother to address things like lobster men knowing that lobsters eat juveniles, or that water temps are not actually rising much at all (much less connect this to CO2), or address other fishery issues, or do experiments in colder waters means he is just riding, however peripherally, the AGW academic rent-seeking gravy train: Connect a study of cheesy fries to AGW, and you can get funding for it.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
March 11, 2014 2:45 pm

wobble asked Noah Oppenheim for references to the two tethering studies, one 20 years ago which Noah stated did not show evidence of lobster cannibalism. Not my field but if you have only two studies which give significantly different results, you cannot say which one is the anomaly.
It would be helpful if Noah could produce the requested links.
This is not my field, so I make no representation this is anything other than a cursory search, but it seems lobster cannibalism has been noted for some time, even by research scientists:

Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)
Full Text Available By the end of the 19 th century an experimental work on culturing big sea crabs began in Europe and North America. Great demand for their flesh as well as their high price urged many institutions to explore the possibilities of a commercial production in varios parts of the world. Lobsters (Homarus sp.) were mainly used for experimenting, so that the most data available refer to them. Because of the complicated larva stage spiny lobster culturing is mainly being carried out in experimental circumstances. Despite the promissing results this aquacultural activity faces many problems (long time until they achieve a commercial size, loss of eggs due to stress sensitivity during the process of moulting, canibalism). In order to minimize these problems various researches are being carried out, like temperature influence, influence of light, way of feeding, hormonal regulation of moulting frequency. Although both lobster and spiny lobsters live in the Adriatic Sea, there are no data on their culturing in our contry. Concernig conditions in our sea there are realistic possibilities for crabs production development. In this way this delicacy would be more affordable to broader population and could be a highly rated export product.
Ivan?ica Strunjak-Perovi?; Emin Teskered�i?; Marija Tomec

Apparently lobsters’ tendency to eat fellow lobsters is one of the obstacles to producing them in a farm setting. It is not clear from this brief description whether lobster cannibalism was noted when work on crab culturing began at “the end of the 19th century”, or observed later when this report written in early 1999. In any case, it is relevant to note we have farm-raised catfish, trout and other fish species, but all lobsters and crabs are wild-caught. Must be some reason the obvious economics of farming don’t work for lobsters and crabs.
I also came across a reference to another study done by Patrick Meyers at the University of Miami which seems to have some overlap with Noah’s work:

During the summer of 2008, I again worked at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The research project aimed to determine whether certain ecosystem management policies for cod were preferentially selecting for specific phenotypes. Red cod tend to be more sedentary, while silver cod are more migratory. The primary focus of the summer was to process hundreds of fish to add to the ever-growing database. Data collected included stomach contents, morphology, otolith age, isotope analyses, and parasitic infestation. That summer we started a lobster predation experiment. Lobsters of different size classes were collected and tethered to a long-line. While tether-design experiments leave much to be desired, the study was a proof-of-concept which will be applied in future experiments to compare current predation at Georges Bank to a previous tethering study.

I do not see where the results of this study were published, but presumably if lobster cannibalism were observed as part of a larger predation study, it would be reported.
The link to Patrick’s page is here .

March 11, 2014 3:34 pm

First, from the graph it does not look like prices are getting that squeezed. About 2-2.5 per pound over the last 20 years.
Second, Darden restaurants buys half of the lobster out there. If these guys are squeezed, it’s by a large organized buyer, who is also driving demand. Too many lobster-fests. Darden is even starting their own lobster farm in Malaysia to increase supply (could mean even lower prices).
The lobstermen may be in a squeeze, but it’s not climate change. A ridiculous story by someone who knows nothing about the industry.

March 11, 2014 3:45 pm

[yup ~ mod]
Mods, this one probably should be snipped. LOL

March 11, 2014 4:17 pm

All you had to say was U Maine… This is another sad moment and I am certain that Unity College and Bill McKibben (Have a good McDay), will back it up with more bullshit. I was born and raised in Maine and have a reasonable background in the technical sector.
Here are some of the follies that are notable:
While they blamed predators, a certain problem cropped up that was the main reason for the end of the project…,4570,7-153-10370_12150_12220-26502–,00.html
I would also mention the failed attempt at introducing a certain species of fly that would eat spruce budworm larvae, all it bit was us humans and all the other critters in Maine.
Last but not least is the offshore wind thing….
________One more…
But here is the rub…
Look, the fisheries are just fine and the problem lies with those who want to take over the fisheries. Keep an eye on the wind guys and Harvard.

March 11, 2014 4:30 pm

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:
March 11, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Alan Watt, thanks for referencing my question to Noah. You articulated a couple of my suspicions. I’m wondering if the 20 year-old study failed to detect cannibalism because of flaws in the methodology. For example, a lower lobster-to-food ratio in any given area might make cannibalism more difficult to test. Inferior imaging systems 20 years ago might make any such cannibalism more difficult confirm. Fewer tetherings might make statistical acts of cannibalism less likely to occur. Etc.
Overall, since Noah’s claims rely on the disparity between the outcomes of the two studies, it’s imperative for us to compare the disparity in methodologies.

Berényi Péter
March 11, 2014 5:14 pm

Climate Desk Presents: Attack of the Cannibal Lobsters
Narrator: Summer in maine. The oceans hold a deadly secret. [eerie music, scary scene from an old B movie involving a giant lobster and an apparently innocent girl, protected by a manly man]
Oppenheim: The lobsters are carpeting the seafloor here and lobsters are hungry.
West: Hi, James West here, reporting off the coast of Maine. This is the lobster epicenter of the country and scientists are discovering that warming waters due to climate change are producing a very eerie result indeed. [Hurricane Island — Center for Science and Leadership]
Oppenheim: Cannibalization. [monster lobster flashed in]
West: Now, Oppenheim here is like an unlikely horror show director. This is his camera.
Oppenheim: Let me introduce you to Frederick. [shows Oppenheim on a boat, handling a tiny lobster with a string tied around its body, hardly alive]
West: He’s gonna tie a baby lobster to this thing and drop it off into these murky waters to see who comes for dinner.
Oppenheim: When scientists placed underwater cameras off the coast of Maine in 1992, they found that fish were the primary predators of lobsters.
West: But now, because of overfishing and warming waters there are more Maine lobsters being caught for America’s dinner plates, than ever before.
Oppenheim: As the water temperatures elevate, lobsters both become more fecund, they reproduce more frequently with larger broods and they grow more rapidly. If we enjoy eating lobsters, perhaps other lobsters enjoy eating lobsters too. [smirks]
West: That’s right, cannibalism. Noah’s camera has shown for the first time that young lobsters on the seafloor here are more likely to be eaten by each other than by anything else.
Oppenheim: So, in the middle of the screen, towards the bottom we have the juvenile lobster tied down. [shows hitech IR recording] Now the predator is approaching. Crawls right up quickly, grabs the juvenile, takes less than a second, eviscerates it, tears the claw off and begins to consume it. [eerie music] Fairly gruesome, to be honest, but this is a process that is occurring out in the wild every night.

I wonder what’s the primary predator for cheese in the Gulf of Maine. A control experiment is needed with a helpless piece of cheese tied down to the seafloor, subsequent events being recorded by a hitech camera.

Pamela Gray
March 11, 2014 6:50 pm

Let me get this straight. Warmer waters (caused by climate change) results in more lobsters which reduces the price. So climate change is at fault. For sure greed has nothing to do with hauling up all those extra lobsters thus reducing the price over time. Surely.

March 11, 2014 8:36 pm

Climate Desk knew the alarmists could relate because they are also hard-shelled bottom feeders who tend to go red.

Karl W. Braun
March 11, 2014 9:57 pm

According to Noah Oppenheim: “The fact that other, extinct clawed lobster species have been capable of surviving in higher temperatures in the prehistoric past is completely irrelevant.” However, in the waters surrounding the Philippine Islands, where the water temperature can push 30°C, there are a number of species thriving today which sport some rather impressive claws as evidenced here:comment

Larry Fields
March 11, 2014 10:17 pm

The cannibal lobster story is making me downright crabby.
Oh, bad pun. Bad Larry! *slaps self on wrist*

March 12, 2014 1:34 am

Hi Noah
Despite my attempts at puerile humour earlier I would like to say that your standing and others’ general estimation of your character would soar if you chose to please continue to contribute as you commendably did with your comment above. None are criticising you for your defence of the questionable.In fact, I personally saw saw it as worthy. To quote Wellington on the eve of the battle of Waterloo “I always have use for a man who continues to defend a defenceless position”.
I am not in any way qualified in a climate related field but can decide for myself the merits of an argument and so far have read every comment here and even looked at some of the links provided.
It does seem to me that you have a case to answer.
You are kindly invited to address some of the points raised in this thread.

March 12, 2014 3:30 am

What’s this?

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 1892
Up to June 11, this year, we have planted 85,350 young lobsters, and have on hand 510,000 eggs.* We cannot keep the young many days, because they are cannibals, and as they moult about three times in the first ten days and are then soft, their brethren devour them. I have fed them crab and lobster meat, clams and beef, with the hope of bribing them to refrain from eating their fellows, but did not succeed. They are persistent cannibals and must be put out at a few days old on rocky bottom, where there are always hiding places for a soft lobster to remain until his skin hardens into a new and larger shell.

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Volume 22, Issue 1, 1893

Global warming insanity.

March 12, 2014 4:05 am

What’s this?

1905Transactions of the American Fisheries Society*
The little lobster which hatches from the egg begins to eat
immediately, grows but little until it is about three days old,
when it sheds its skin and becomes a considerably larger sec- ond stage fry. It remains in this stage on an average four or
five days when it moults and grows again and becomes a third
stage fry. Again after five or six days it again moults and be-
comes a fourth stage fry. It is during this stage, that it changes
its habits from a free-swimming larva and takes to the bottom
to assume the habits of a full grown lobster. The whole process,
varying with many factors such as temperature, food, etc., takes
from eleven to twenty-one days.
The difficulties connected with rearing the frv to this later stage are in brief, first, their terrible cannibalism, second,
the difficulty of keeping them properly aerated and free from
fouling from their decaying food, third, the supply of proper
food, fourth, protection from a growth of diatoms and other
vegetable and animal forms, which appears on the surface of
their bodies and prevents them from swimming and feeding….

It must have been boiling back then.

March 12, 2014 4:23 am

What’s this?

1. Actions of Lobster Larvae.
For several days after they are hatched, young lobsters show a desire to occupy
water that is well lighted. They crowd to the lighted side of a glass vessel, and within
a few seconds will have deserted the shaded for the sunny portion of the water in
which they are lying. Otherwise they show little recognition of direction in their
movements, sinking quietly or jerking themselves apparently aimlessly up or down
or laterally through the water, often with their backs or heads downward, and with
their bristly outer leg-branches constantly vibrating. Their spasmodic movements
are probably the result of various stimuli besides that of light, as is shown by the
fact that they seize greedily any small object that seems likely to make them a satis-
factory meal. When the minute lobsters are crowded together, this edible object is
quite likely to be another lobster of the same brood.’ The stronger of the two
immediately shows how fond he is of his relative by eating as much as possible of
him or her. Cannibalism is one of the factor-^ alwavs to be kept in mind in connec-
tion with artificial arrangements for rearing the lobster.

It seems as if lobsters chow each other whether in tanks or in the wild. This claim by Oppenheim about global warming induce lobster cannibalism is utter garbage. Anthony, see my previous 2 comments showing lobster cannibalism during cooler climate times.

March 12, 2014 4:29 am

In 1910 even crabs liked cannibalism. Wake me up when something is actually being caused by global yawning.

“… time and general cleanliness observed, they live in dozens in such a house for months without any further food supply than is provided possibly by the paper and occasionally by one of their own number falling a victim; for, like crabs, they are given to cannibalism, not merely…”


Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
March 12, 2014 6:10 am

Noah Oppenheim @ March 11, 2014 at 11:01 am

The key result of my investigations into predation on juvenile lobsters in the subtidal areas of the Gulf of Maine is that young lobsters are now being cannibalized in the wild frequently enough to be detected in a tethering study, whereas they were not being cannibalized frequently enough to be detected in a similar tethering study twenty years ago. That is a demonstrable fact, peer reviewed by renowned scientists and published in the scientific literature.

And yet Jimbo (the Citation that Never Sleeps) says
@March 12, 2014 at 3:30 am,
@March 12, 2014 at 4:05 am,
@March 12, 2014 at 4:29 am

What’s this?
.. [and this, and this ]?

Noah: where’s the reference to that earlier tethering study? It appears your assumption that lobster cannibalism behavior changed between the two studies was unwarranted.

Eugene S. Conlin
March 12, 2014 7:16 am

Reuters report on Noah Oppenheim’s study under the guidance of Professor Richard Wahle is at

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
March 12, 2014 8:44 am

Well this whole thing makes me feel better about eating lobsters. I am actually following the Golden Rule: doing unto them as they would do unto each other.

March 12, 2014 3:53 pm

Eugene S. Conlin says:
Reuters report on Noah Oppenheim’s study . . .

I’m surprised that this is over a year old. I would have thought that Noah would have been prepared for the type of questions that we had for him, but I guess it’s possible that his study didn’t get much scrutiny since it advanced a CAGW meme.
That being said, I’m still hoping Noah returns to this thread.

March 12, 2014 5:51 pm

I checked the YouTube site to see what sort of comments people leave on this “research”
Quite a lot of people pointed out that cannibalism is normal state in lobsters and known for very long time.
Noah had been aware of this argument for at least 7 months, yet he said nothing. Wobble, don’t hold your breath.

Pamela Gray
March 12, 2014 8:33 pm

Jimbo!!!! Funniest stuff I have read on WUWT!!! EVA!!!!!!!

Pamela Gray
March 12, 2014 8:34 pm

Of course it could be the hot toddy talkin and the fact I have a roaring sinus infection.

Pamela Gray
March 12, 2014 8:35 pm

Now if we can just get climate scientists to eat each other…

March 12, 2014 9:26 pm

You know, it seems that maybe Noah is a scientist after all- a modern climate concerned scientist, The kind that does not bother to research history. That dodges criticism of his paper. That uses hyped up cheesy videos about his work to mislead people. The kind that claims to be a scientist when he does not even have a grad degree. Who ignores evidence that disproves his thesis in favor of linking the results to ‘climate’.
This lad may have a real future yet!

March 13, 2014 3:09 am

First it was the Holocaust denial, now it is the Lobsters! What is next? Puppies? You Climate Denialists are pure evil. [/sarc]

March 13, 2014 9:38 am

Rather disappointed. I was hoping that after getting some responses, Noah would have chosen to engage. Sad that he didn’t. Not surprising, just sad.

March 13, 2014 2:32 pm

For the sake of his conscience, I hope he is diong some real introspection. Sadly from what he wrote, he may have had that surgically removed some time ago.

Gunga Din
March 13, 2014 2:59 pm
Gunga Din
March 13, 2014 3:02 pm

Try this.

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