Female ornate rock lobster bred in captivity, which laid tens of thousands of eggs. (Photo: AIMS/FIS)
Tens of thousands of rock lobster eggs hatch in captivity
Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
A female ornate rock lobster (Panulirus ornatus) bred in captivity has laid tens of thousands of eggs that have all hatched at the Australian Institute of Marine Science’s (AIMS) headquarters in Townsville. Her larvae will be the second generation of lobsters fully raised in captivity and help pave the way for an ornate rock lobster aquaculture industry.
AIMS is now the first research institution to boast such impressive results; tropical rock lobsters are notoriously tricky to breed in captivity.
|Lobster larvae. (Photo: AIMS)
The institute’s achievement will help allow for the selective breeding of commercially valuable traits – such as preferred taste and colour -- in domesticated lobsters.
"This latest breakthrough builds on AIMS’ strength and the team’s expertise in crustacean research, microbiology and nutrition,” head of the project Dr Mike Hall said. “It continues on from our successes in a research consortium in black tiger prawn domestication, which has been passed on to industry.”
Various research groups and private companies are making efforts to better understand the multifaceted breeding cycle of lobsters, so more lobster types that are popular in the market can be farmed to supply expanding demand in China, Southeast Asia and beyond.
Hall said the AIMS team has been successful inducing reproduction in lobsters year-round through out-of-
season breeding manipulation. It was the first team to publish the complete description of the larval cycle of the ornate rock lobster in captivity in peer-reviewed literature.
|Adult lobster. (Photo: Matt Salmon, AIMS)
Moreover, the team was able to identify a new species of disease-causing bacteria, the rearing of larvae on formulated artificial diets and the spawning of second-generation domesticated broodstock.
"These are all fundamental issues that had to be resolved, in order to build proof-of-concept for the establishment of a commercial lobster industry. The team has met these challenges" he said.
"With the recent spawning of a completely domesticated lobster we can now undertake selective breeding, which will also be important in the establishment of lobster farms," Hall continued.
Establishing a commercial lobster farm industry, he said, would help give declining wild lobster stocks a chance to recover. Because each female lobster can spawn up to 1 million eggs, lobster farms could eventually be able to generate thousands of animals for consumption with just a few breeders.
As well, he noted that Australia’s marine domain makes up over 70 per cent of its territory – yet the country has one of the biggest seafood trade deficits in import to export ratio in the world at 193,500 tonnes and 46,900 tonnes, respectively.
“The demand for high value seafood from the wild is relentless and will continue for decades to come,” he asserted.
- Commercial rock lobster TAC cut by 220 tonnes
By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member AIMS - Australian Institute of Marine Science