A Little Trap for a Little Lobster

The Edge of the Sea touch tank lets visitors get up close to some local tidepool animals, and often times there are small lobsters on display. Only a few inches long, these animals come from the New EnglandAquarium’s Lobster Lab, where we grow young lobsters in order to study their growth patterns, shell rot and impacts of climate change.

Lobster growing in our lobster rearing facility

These lobsters are usually happy to stay inside their special enclosure. However, we recently had one feisty lobster get out of his enclosure at night and found a nice spot to live inside the rockwork. While he wasn’t doing any harm inside the rockwork, the staff wanted to find him a new home and needed a way to get him out. So how do you catch a little lobster? With a little lobster trap, of course!

Finished trap

Michael O’Neill, a Visitor Educator in the Visitor Experience Department (who's also volunteered with the Rescue Dept.), also happens to be a volunteer for the Edge of the Sea exhibit. Hearing of the lobster’s escape, he decided to put his building skills to good use. Using small pieces of wood, dowels, mesh from an old dive bags, cable ties and some metal rings, Mike created a fairly accurate 1/8th scale of a lobster trap.

Construction started...

Nets being added

After spending a couple of weeks on construction, the trap was ready to be deployed in the exhibit. Mike cleared out a space in the tide pool, placed the trap on the bottom and then baited it with small pieces of smelt.

The wait began…

Deploying the trap in Edge of the Sea

A month had gone by…nothing. The trap remained empty. However, late last week, success! Upon opening the exhibit in the morning, educators found the lobster in the trap-the trap had worked! During the evening hours, the lobster had made his way out of his hiding place, took the bait and landed in the trap!

Caught ya!

Visitors and staff, especially Mike, were happy to see that the trap worked! Innovation, some wooden dowels and a fun idea managed to catch our lobster Houdini and show to visitors how lobster traps work! Let’s hope that the little lobster stays put for now!

Happy Mike!
Update! Researchers have found that lobsters spend relatively little time in lobster traps, able to climb out after getting a snack. True to form, our little lobster remained inside the trap for one day…and managed to escape back into the exhibit rockwork later that night. Looks like the trap has some more work to do!

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