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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 90:153-166 (2010)  -  DOI:

Factors affecting post-capture survivability of lobster Homarus americanus

David Basti1,*, Ian Bricknell2, Ken Hoyt1, Ernest S. Chang3, William Halteman4, Deborah Bouchard1

1University of Maine Animal Health Laboratory, 2School of Marine Sciences, and 4Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA
3Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California–Davis, PO Box 247, Bodega Bay, California 94923, USA

ABSTRACT: Technological advances in gear and fishing practices have driven the global expansion of the American lobster live seafood market. These changes have had a positive effect on the lobster industry by increasing capture efficiency. However, it is unknown what effect these improved methods will have on the post-capture fitness and survival of lobsters. This project utilized a repeated measures design to compare the physiological changes that occur in lobsters over time as the result of differences in depth, hauling rate, and storage methodology. The results indicate that lobsters destined for long distance transport or temporary storage in pounds undergo physiological disturbance as part of the capture process. These changes are significant over time for total hemocyte counts, crustacean hyperglycemic hormone, L-lactate, ammonia, and glucose. Repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) for glucose indicates a significant interaction between depth and storage methodology over time for non-survivors. A Gram-negative bacterium, Photobacterium indicum, was identified in pure culture from hemolymph samples of 100% of weak lobsters. Histopathology revealed the presence of Gram-negative bacteria throughout the tissues with evidence of antemortem edema and necrosis suggestive of septicemia. On the basis of these findings, we recommend to the lobster industry that if a reduction in depth and hauling rate is not economically feasible, fishermen should take particular care in handling lobsters and provide them with a recovery period in recirculating seawater prior to land transport. The ecological role of P. indicum is not fully defined at this time. However, it may be an emerging opportunistic pathogen of stressed lobsters. Judicious preemptive antibiotic therapy may be necessary to reduce mortality in susceptible lobsters destined for high-density holding facilities.

KEY WORDS: Lobster · Homarus americanus · Stress · Clinical biochemistry · Depth · Hauling rate · Photobacterium indicum · Aerococcus viridans

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Cite this article as: Basti D, Bricknell I, Hoyt K, Chang ES, Halteman W, Bouchard D (2010) Factors affecting post-capture survivability of lobster Homarus americanus. Dis Aquat Org 90:153-166.

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