Climate Study: The Lobsters are Safe – For Now

Rock Lobster
Rock Lobster. By No machine-readable author provided. DrKjaergaard assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Attendees of UN IPCC climate parties conferences will be reassured to know that delicious Rock Lobsters are showing surprising resilience to the impact of climate change. But ongoing studies are required.

Rock lobster ‘resilience’ to climate change promising, but future not assured

By Harriet Aird

The southern rock lobster is showing resistance to the effects of climate change, Tasmanian researchers have found, but warn that does not mean the species is immune to future environmental perils.

The study, which reported on findings taken over a 25-year period, investigated the environmental aspects that influence the species’ settlement across a range of Australian locations, and found the fishery as a whole is showing broad resilience to changing ocean currents, water temperatures, swell and wind patterns.

The research compared monthly records of the number of juvenile lobsters surviving in the open ocean and returning to shore.

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The abstract of the study;

Differing environmental drivers of settlement across the range of southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) suggest resilience of the fishery to climate change

Authors: Ivan A. Hinojosa, Caleb Gardner, Bridget S. Green, Andrew Jeffs, Rafael Leon, Adrian Linnane

First published: 14 October 2016

Temporal and spatial trends in settlement of the southern rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii, were examined to identify the influence of environmental variables over different spatial scales. Settlement data were collected from 1994 to 2011 along the Southern Australian and New Zealand coasts. We identified common settlement trends at a regional scale (100–500 km): the magnitude of settlement at sites from South Australia (SA) and Victoria (VIC) were similar, but different to sites in Tasmania (TAS). In New Zealand, three spatial regions were identified: northern (NNZ), middle (MNZ) and southern regions (SNZ). Higher settlement in SA, VIC and MNZ occurred in years with higher rainfall and storms in spring and El Niño conditions. In TAS and SNZ, higher settlement occurred during La Niña conditions. These results suggest that settlement over regional scales is modulated by oceanic processes, but outcomes vary between regions. At a local scale, a higher wave period and wind relaxation were relatively more important than the sea surface temperature (SST) in SA and VIC. In TAS, the current velocity also influenced the strength of settlement. However, much of the local settlement variability was not explained by the models suggesting that settlement in J. edwardsii is a complex process where larval behaviour, biological factors and oceanographic processes interact over different scales. The apparently complex processes affecting settlement showed that environmental conditions that reduced settlement strength in one region of the fishery often increased settlement strength in other regions. This could provide resilience to climate change at the stock level.

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No doubt climate researchers will continue to conduct long term sampling studies of the rock lobster population, to ensure this important resource receives the maximum possible protection from the ravages of over-exploitation and climate change.

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June 19, 2017 9:45 pm

This is in the category of “Gimme a break!!!”

george e. smith
Reply to  tomwys1
June 19, 2017 10:07 pm

But what I want to know is how much their taste has changed over those 25 years, due to CO2 acidosis.
Having to taste test rock lobsters for 25 years to see how they are doing seems like a bit of a chore.
But I would rather do that than have to taste test what passes for a lobster in Maine.

Reply to  george e. smith
June 19, 2017 11:58 pm

Acidosis! What about their halitosis?

Reply to  george e. smith
June 20, 2017 4:46 am

Maine lobsters can’t hold a claw to the sweet, succulent taste of a PEI lobster.

Bryan A
Reply to  george e. smith
June 20, 2017 6:06 am

The key factor is mentioned…not climate change but over exploitation

Rick C PE
Reply to  george e. smith
June 20, 2017 12:53 pm

I’d be happy to conduct a study of the reaction of rock lobsters to a hot water environment if someone can provide the samples. A half dozen 3 pounders would do nicely.

george e. smith
Reply to  george e. smith
June 20, 2017 5:08 pm

Rick I never ever saw a three pound crayfish when I was a kid. They used to let them grow to be adults before harvesting then, so one crayfish was a seafood meal for the whole family. I would think 5 to 8 pounds was more the going size.
Nowadays you see four ounce lobster tails in the stores. Glorified prawns is what those are.

June 19, 2017 9:53 pm

Beasties are affected by ENSO! Not much, but we wrote a study anyway?

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 20, 2017 7:10 am

Let’s take the common lobster, Homarus vulgarus, and the spiney (or rock) lobster, Panulurus spp., of the US SE coast. They share two ranges with a small overlap (boundary with competition) around Cape Hatteras, common lobster in the north and spiney in the south.
Now, the sea temperatures along the East Coast have a ~60 year cycle that the lobstermen in New England have known about for many generations. Common lobsters are relatively scarce during the temperature peaks and valleys and most common in the intermediate temperatures—makes sense to adapt to the most common temperature range if you cannot specialize in the whole thing. So, we can actually track this sea temperature cycle by watching the lobstering (or fishing) effort, as fishing effort goes up when lobsters are scarce and down when they are abundant.
Another way of following this cycle is to watch the boundary between the common and spiney lobsters as it moves north and then south as the temperatures go up and down, respectively.
Rock lobsters, even in Australia, see a wide temperature range as well as seasonal changes over their regional distribution. They are more robust than these biologists realize.
There are three main factors that lobsters need to live (based on studies of Homarus v.), needing proper salinity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen. Now, each of these factors has a viable range and lobster physiology has a limit (metabolic power). If two of these factors are relatively constant, then the lobster is more robust (tolerant at the extremes of the third factor’s range. However, it two of these factors are already near the limits of a lobster’s tolerance ranges, a slight change in the third can be fatal. This is why lobsters to not do all that well in estuaries, but thrive just outside where the conditions are not as wanton and changing.
In Long Island Sound, years, ago, one summer, the water was warm and the oxygen was low. There was then a huge rainstorm that dumped huge quantities of fresh water into the sound. The organic load of the rain runoff kept the oxygen low and the decreased salinity proved lethal. Many nearshore lobsters died.

george e. smith
Reply to  higley7
June 20, 2017 5:11 pm

Well I agree with the vulgaris part. They are so bitter tasting.
I have crawdads in my moat around my house and they taste pretty good when I can catch them.

June 19, 2017 10:00 pm

Wrong. Lobsters are what’s for dinner.

June 19, 2017 10:02 pm

And I thought the biggest problem lobsters had was that they fancied Jayne Mansfield

Reply to  Erny72
June 20, 2017 6:27 am

Who doesn’t?

June 19, 2017 10:03 pm

But, but, … there has been no significant warming over the study period. So … the lobsters are tolerant of abject monotony. Good to know!

Reply to  brians356
June 20, 2017 3:09 am

Never imagined there’d be a Derek and Clive reference on this site.

June 19, 2017 10:15 pm

I am sure that all lobsters endured a large amount of climate change over the span of their evolution. Most recently they have survived the ice ages and interglacial periods warmer than this one. The biggest threat to their existance is not climate change but rather being caught and eaten.

Reply to  willhaas
June 20, 2017 5:46 am

Researchers think lobsters only appeared in the past two hundred years, apparently.

Barbara Skolaut
Reply to  arthur4563
June 20, 2017 9:45 am

And polar bears, and owls, etc., etc. . . . .

June 19, 2017 10:18 pm

This must have been disappointing.

Coeur de Lion
June 19, 2017 11:46 pm

I’ve always thought that soft shelled crabs are completely tasteless. An effect of climate change, I’m afraid

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
June 20, 2017 5:54 am

Perhaps, but is climate change responsible for soft shelled crabs having no taste or you not being able to taste ?

paul r
June 20, 2017 12:56 am

When i was young lad going to school i thought you had to be really intelligent to be a scientist/reseacher. Now that I’m an adult i realise you don’t have to be at all. You can write any old rubbish.

June 20, 2017 1:21 am

I want a Crabby Patty.

Reply to  ClimateOtter
June 20, 2017 5:37 am
John M. Ware
Reply to  Gary
June 20, 2017 6:17 am

Are these people still performing? In some ways, the music was dreadful; but the video was immensely entertaining–I couldn’t turn it off! So scientific, too . . .

June 20, 2017 1:23 am

The term ‘settlement’ was unfamiliar to me in the context of critters. I assume it’s unfamiliar to many others, so here’s a brief precis.
Some marine critters don’t move around much as adults. When they’re young, they need a way to move into new territory. That’s called dispersal. When they find the place where they’re going to spend the rest of their lives, that’s called settlement. link
Different fields, even different specializations in the same field, use words differently. example It’s always wise to check. I don’t know about other languages, but English has lots of words with self-contradictory meanings. link

June 20, 2017 1:49 am

I imagine lobster populations suffer much more from climate conferences than they do from climate change.

M Seward
Reply to  gnome
June 20, 2017 5:32 am

Yes indeed gnome and you won’t find those parasites catching their own. They will be caught in a pot from a diesel powered fishing vessel, transported ashore, shored in a coal fired power station powered cool room, flown overseas in some dirty great jumbo air freighter and cooked in either an electric or gas fired cooker. Oh so eco friendly.

Alfred Palmeri
Reply to  M Seward
June 20, 2017 6:20 pm

+ 10 M Seward

Reply to  gnome
June 20, 2017 5:15 pm

Great comment, the elites (hypocrites) are exempt from their huge carbon footprint, only the peons need to sacrifice.

June 20, 2017 2:15 am

IPCC conference attendeees should be fed the foods and drink they advocate to “save the planet” from catastrophic climate change. The warmist should be fed bugs,worms and artificially produced proteins accompanied by a fine recycled urine beverage. Watch attendance and advocacy plunge.

Reply to  iRoll
June 20, 2017 5:41 am

Winner +1000000

Roger Knights
Reply to  iRoll
June 20, 2017 7:16 am

“Want flies with that?”

June 20, 2017 2:21 am

… southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii)…

Oh, Jasus e. christ!

June 20, 2017 2:21 am

Those lobsters will never be safe while I am still alive.

Reply to  Asp
June 20, 2017 12:50 pm

And you’ll arrange to be buried with a supply of drawn butter and tartar sauce, just in case?

Tom in Florida
June 20, 2017 4:34 am

Imagine how many lobsters, of all kinds, would be in the world’s oceans if it wasn’t for human consumption. You just might be able to walk across the water on them.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 20, 2017 12:57 pm

This is a study I could get into. Got to love it when you can eat your data with a bit of drawn butter. It’s a bit amazing how long the FL. spiny was ignored. Now every hole in the bay is marked on someone’s GPS and you can walk across the water boat to boat.

Reply to  taz1999
June 20, 2017 1:09 pm

I don’t remember the lobster book where I read it, but it’s conjectured that the FL loop current in the gulf of mexico re-seeds the lobster in the FL straits.

Ric Haldane
June 20, 2017 4:58 am

Alert! Alert! That lobster looks all red like he has been cooked. It must be a sign that the heat is hiding in the ocean. We must get some “climate scientists” down there quickly. We can give them thermometers and concrete shoes to check this out.

michael hart
June 20, 2017 5:07 am

Everybody had, matching towels.

June 20, 2017 5:09 am

From the article” “The southern rock lobster is showing resistance to the effects of climate change, Tasmanian researchers have found,”
What climate change effects?
How scientific is it to assume facts not in evidence? Answer: Not very.

June 20, 2017 5:14 am

“However, much of the local settlement variability was not explained by the models suggesting that settlement in J. edwardsii is a complex process where larval behaviour, biological factors and oceanographic processes interact over different scales”.
That’s biologyese for “don’t know”

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  GregK
June 20, 2017 7:12 am

As also noted by GregK
“ However, the processes determining the variability in larval settlement are complex and include biotic processes, such as ecological interactions that determine the size of the larval pool and larval behaviour, as well as abiotic factors, such as physical transport mechanisms”
The question of why most marine oviparous species produce such exponentially large numbers of larvae seems to have found a home in models such as these with elaborate modern software analyses. Statements as above predate these and the with ones below are long repetitive (or is it redundant). It has been long suspected that such resiliency, as concluded, is the (necessary) result of such numbers.
“ The GLS models including the climate-ocean forcing indexes explained 38% to 79% of the variability in settlement trends (Table 1).”
“ In summary, the factors determining the settlement of pueruli in J. edwardsii are clearly part of a complex process, and it is apparent from the results of the present study that oceanographic processes interact at different scales and the effect varies between regions.”
Those of us who have been reading this in papers for lots of decades would like to see some specific problem solving approaches. There are hints in this paper and others of old. I guess it is better to say that something is complex than that you do not understand it.
Attempts to link larval bay immigration with 3 to 10 day periods was unsuccessful, but most of these studies, admittedly inadequate, suspect that much happens in between sampling periods. (Paraphrased and summarized from a three decade old thesis).

June 20, 2017 5:16 am

They survived a 0.8 degree change….mostly adjusted

June 20, 2017 5:45 am

A species at least 140 million years old shows the ability to adapt to changing conditions including whatever offed the dinosaurs recently. Shock, suprise. Conclusion: more study is needed. And butter.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Rob Dawg
June 20, 2017 6:04 am

Drawn butter. With a just a hint of garlic.

June 20, 2017 5:58 am

These people make the stupid assumption that global warming is always harmful, when in fact, warmer temps mean more plant growth, the basis for all food for all animals. It should be obvious to anyone with an operational brain that lobsters have survived extreme climate changes over the lifespan of the species, and there is small likelihood that a few degrees higher temps will wipe them out, or even reduce their numbers.

June 20, 2017 6:05 am

This is good news.
When the Ocean’s boil, as James Hansen predicts, we’ll all be eating lobster!
Unless, of course, prior to that, and this would be scarcely odd, we’d eaten every one.

Bruce Cobb
June 20, 2017 7:46 am

“Climate jamborees” works, or “climate extravaganzas”.

June 20, 2017 7:49 am

My computer simulation shows conclusively that the rarity and price of lobsters is a reliable predictor of the frequency of UN sponsored climate meetings.

John M. Ware
June 20, 2017 7:58 am

Those were oysters, JohnWho. Were you the walrus, or the carpenter?

Bruce Cobb
June 20, 2017 8:38 am

Good news! Lobsters have also shown resilience to attack by space aliens. GSAMs (global space alien models) all show this, however further research is needed.

Bob Denby
June 20, 2017 10:46 am

The list of things that have not been affected by climate change (but needing further study) is limited only by the availability of grant money.

Michael Cox
June 20, 2017 12:38 pm

“The apparently complex processes affecting settlement showed that environmental conditions that reduced settlement strength in one region of the fishery often increased settlement strength in other regions.”
Doesn’t this mean that you studied the wrong “environmental conditions”? Correlation isn’t causation, but no correlation at all means you’re just wrong.

Peter Fraser
June 20, 2017 7:08 pm

Don’t underestimate the rock lobster. Many years ago while working on a harbor deepening project in Port Phillip Bay Australia we were required to place two 50 pound packs of high explosive to knock down pinnacles. On one occasion I noticed a rock lobster some six metres from the site. The shot was fired and on returning the next day to survey the site there was the rock lobster alive and well. Of course having no air cavities helped

June 20, 2017 8:46 pm

Good news for the lobsters, I suppose, but I don’t care. They are big, sea-going bugs, and I’m not going to eat them.
(And isn’t that a crayfish, not a lobster, in the picture?)

June 21, 2017 12:01 am

Well, 10 000 or so years ago there were kangaroos bouncing around the rocks and gullies where the the Rock Lobster’s live today…. I’m pretty sure that a 100 parts per million rise in an atmospheric trace gas and a 0.7 degree Celsius rise in temperature over the last 100 years is NOT going to worry the Rock Lobsters one freaking bit. I’m pretty sure they’re fairly resilient to change…. 😉

June 21, 2017 8:42 am

Amazingly if one reduces predation on a marine species you often end up with more of them, at least for a while. Most if not all marine organism have evolved highly resilient life styles. In fact resiliency seems to be a common trait among marine fish and crustaceans. Why? because throughout their history they have had to adapt to both subtle and dramatic changes in “ocean climate.”

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