The Ecimat facilities, where they managed to complete the larval cycle of the spiny lobster. (Photo: ECIMAT/IEO/FIS)
Partial completion of spiny lobster larval cycle in captivity
Monday, May 02, 2011, 00:40 (GMT + 9)
For the first time in Spain, a team of researchers from the Marine Science Station of Toralla (Ecimat), of the University of Vigo, have completed part of the larval cycle of the spiny lobster (Palinurus Elephas) in captivity.
According to Enrique Poza, the technical director at Ecimat, the strange biological features of the lobster larvae make their cultivation in captivity very complex and delicate.
It is the "first time that anyone has completed the cultivation proccess upto the stage of phyllosoma larvae VI of these difficult forms of life in Spain," the scientist stressed.
The lobsters which were born in the Ecimat facilities are now 60 days old and are located in special tanks "with a reverse flow of sea water and are fed with different sizes of the live crustacean Artemia salina," Poza said.
In the normal cycle of growth in the sea, the spiny lobster larvae live for around 150 days, as part of the zooplankton.
When they have leaf-shaped bodies they are known as phyllosoma larvae and have long articulated legs that can capture food, states a press release from the University of Vigo.
These phyllosoma larvae go through seven stages before becoming a lobster.
"The eggs that hatch in the abdomen of the lobster leave the phyllosoma larvae in a brash manner and with only three pairs of thoracic legs," explained Poza.
This is followed by the lining of the chitin to form a new larger exoskeleton.
"This process of molting or ecdysis is done five times in order for them to become phyllosma larvae II, III, IV, V and VI, which then results in them growing a new appendices and abdomen with a tail," said the biologist.
This is the stage of the investigation that has been reached by experts from the University.
The team intends to complete the entire process to cultivate viable captive lobster growing out of their normal environment.
By Analia Murias