The larvae of eastern rock lobsters spend nearly a year out at sea feeding on jellyfish and other zooplankton to build up enough fat to fuel their migration back to the coast where they settle on reefs and become juveniles.
The migratory stage is known as a puerulus and they are champion swimmers – capable of continuously swimming over one kilometre per hour despite only being the size a jellybean.
Such powerful swimming is hugely costly for these tiny animals and it is thought many of them run out of fuel before reaching the coast, which in turn affects how many baby lobsters recruit into our fisheries. Collaborative research at SIMS between University of Auckland, DPI Fisheries and UNSW is looking into the swimming abilities of puerulus and finding out how quickly they deplete their fat reserves.
This is done by encouraging puerulus to swim in a special tank which sets up a continuous flow of seawater – a bit like being on a treadmill underwater! The results from the study will be combined with modelling of ocean currents and larval feeding conditions to see if it possible to use satellite information about the sea to predict the recruitment of baby lobsters into NSW fisheries.
Project – Prof Andrew Jeffs, University of Auckland; Dr Geoffrey Liggins and Dr Melinda Coleman, Dept. Primary Industries; Associate Professor Moninya Roughan UNSW.
For further detail, click here.