Fall 1999, the state of the Long Island Sound lobster fishery has been
in question. Lobsters have been experiencing unprecedented outbreaks of
disease that have resulted in massive mortalities, particularly in the
Sound's western basin. At the same time, lobsters in the eastern Sound
have been suffering from "shell disease," a bacterial infection that has
been around for awhile but appears to have greatly increased.
So, what's the cause of the western Sound's die-offs? There are
many possible factors that could have contributed to declines on an
ecosystem-wide basis. These environmental, physiological, and biological
stresses include: water quality conditions including elevated
temperature and changes in salinity, environmental conditions such as
storm events, pollution, lobster crowding, disease-causing organisms,
"Our hope is that research from this cooperative initiative will
ultimately provide evidence to select the real causes among the many
potential causes of the lobster mortalities," says New York Sea Grant
Assistant Director Cornelia Schlenk.
Sea Grant programs in New York and Connecticut, along with our
affiliates, are providing the latest on lobster-related health concerns.
Our aim is to better inform decision-makers, connect with researchers
studying probable causes, and educate reporters and the interested
public searching for answers.