New Brunswick

Lobster boom in Bay of Fundy puzzles scientists

The Bay of Fundy's lobster population continues to grow, but experts can't figure out why.

Scientists puzzled by surging numbers of crustaceans as each year produces a new record

More and more of these creatures crawl the floor of the Bay of Fundy, but scientists aren't sure why. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The Bay of Fundy's lobster population continues to grow, but experts can't figure out why. 

Lobster represents Canada's most valuable fishery and boats in the Bay of Fundy are bringing in record harvests, year after year. 

Julien Gaudette, a biologist for Fisheries and Oceans, studies lobster reproduction to safeguard the fishery's health. 

"Since 1995, it's been an almost exponential increase," he said.  

A June 2013 report from Fisheries and Oceans says the previous five seasons in the Bay of Fundy each created a new record.

Gaudette says more research is needed to determine what's happening.

"Right now we don't really understand entirely why there have been such high landings. There are a couple of hypothesis we can use to try and explain." 

Gaudette says environmental changes in the Bay of Fundy, like warm water temperatures, could be part of the reason. Also, cod and sculpin populations are down, and those are among the fish that eat young lobster. 

Gaudette says in the short term high lobster catches will likely continue, but he says the long-term outlook has some uncertainty. 

"There are other factors that need to be considered, like natural mortality and the growth rate, but it is a possibility that at some point the population will decrease," he said.