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shutterstock 91581824 European lobster (Homarus gammarus)

Battling Beasts of Lundy

Scientists studying lobsters in the UK's first marine reserve has discovered that the population of lobsters around Lundy in the Bristol Channel is booming and that they are getting bigger and meaner, but also seem to be suffering from more diseases.

The study looked at European lobsters (Homarus gammarus) in both the no-take zone (NTZ) and the fished refuge zone (RZ) around the island and revealed a higher density on lobsters in the NTZ and that they were generally larger than those in the RZ.

However, a third of the lobsters in the NTZ displayed evidence of injuries caused fighting and that the injured animals were more prone to shell diseases.

lundyThe Lundy Island Marine Conservation Zone /Lundy Field Society

Charlotte Eve Davies, a researcher in crustacean disease at University of Swansea, said: 'Our study is interesting in that it introduces the idea that un-fished populations in marine parks may eventually reach a threshold at which conditions become unhealthy. This may even introduce the possibility of controlled fishing in long-standing no take zones.

'This may be a controversial move but studies have shown high abundance in marine reserves may render animals vulnerable to disease particularly because infections can no longer be “fished out”. A total ban on fishing is certainly positive in allowing recovery of populations back to unexploited densities, but they may have a finite time span of success.'

The study shows both the postive and possible negative impacts of NTZs and calls for more comprehensive, long-term monitoring within highly protected MCZs, both before and after implementation.

The study was published in the ICES Journal of Marine Sciences. A summary by Charlotte Eve Davies was published on The Conversation. And below check out a video of one of Lundy's battling giants eating a shark -albeit a reasonable sized dogfish!

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