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Distribution of ovigerous American lobsters near the Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire

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Aggregations of egg bearing (ovigerous) American lobsters, Homarus americanus (H. Milne-Edwards, 1837), have been documented throughout the species range, but it is not clear why they tend to accumulate in these areas. One such aggregation occurs near the Isles of Shoals (IOS), New Hampshire, USA. The overall goal of our study was to determine if reproductive status, depth, temperature, and/ or current might explain their presence in this area. In 2013 and 2014, research traps were fished at three depth strata (5– 15, 16–25, and 26–35 m), on similar substrates, on both the eastern and western side of the IOS to quantify population demographics. Traps fished on the eastern side of the IOS caught significantly larger female lobsters and approximately 3 times more ovigerous lobsters than those on the western side. Interestingly, the catch rate of females carrying eggs that were hatching was significantly higher in the deep-water stratum (26–35 m) compared to shallow areas (5–15 m), when combining data from both sides of the IOS. In contrast, late stage prehatch animals were significantly more abundant in shallow water. Thus, it appears that female lobsters move to deeper water prior to to the time when their eggs are due to hatch. We hypothesize that lobsters accumulate in specific areas, like IOS, to brood their eggs in part because of their proximity to preferred deep water and high-current hatching locations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences and School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, UNH, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Durham, New Hampshire 03824;, Email: [email protected] 2: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Durham, New Hampshire 03824

Publication date: 01 July 2018

This article was made available online on 03 July 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Distribution of ovigerous American lobsters near the Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire".

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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