MEPS 222:177-186 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps222177

Movement of wild European lobsters Homarus gammarus in natural habitat

I. P. Smith*, A. C. Jensen, K. J. Collins, E. L. Mattey

School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Southampton Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT: Most previous mark-recapture studies of the movement of European lobsters have used externally attached tags which were lost at ecdysis, restricting the range of possible recapture intervals. Published studies of this species with tags designed to be retained through ecdysis have focussed on artificially reared lobsters, or wild lobsters released in artificial habitat. Here, we report a mark-recapture study of the mobility of wild European lobsters conducted in 3 areas on the south coast of England, using persistent tags. Tagged lobsters were smaller than the fishery minimum landing size (50 to 84 mm carapace length) and were therefore likely to be predominantly sexually immature. The majority of these lobsters do not appear to undertake extensive alongshore or on-/offshore migrations. Recapture distances ranged from 0 to 45 km, but 95% of recaptured lobsters moved <3.8 km from their original release positions over periods of up to 862 d. Distance moved did not differ between males and females, but there was a weak positive relationship between recapture distance and body size. The directional distribution of movements >0.5 km differed between the 3 study areas and appeared to be related to the spatial configuration of local lobster habitat, but with a marked tendency for offshore movement in 2 of the areas. Movements >5 km from all 3 release areas, which comprised 5% of recaptures after >6 mo, were generally undertaken by larger lobsters and were almost exclusively to the west or southwest, against the general direction of tide- and wind-generated residual water movement in the English Channel.


KEY WORDS: Lobster · Mark-recapture · Movements · Migrations · Tagging


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