Lobsters – Motherhood

Lobsters – Motherhood

Music; Ambience: Ocean sounds

In the life of a lobster, motherhood is quite an ordeal. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Jelle Atema is a Boston University scientist who studies lobsters at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. He says that, after getting together with a mate to reproduce, the female lobster stores the sperm of the male in a special pouch for up to three years, biding her time. Now when she’s ready to fertilize her eggs, she releases some of that stored sperm at just the right moment, so that the eggs and the sperm meet.

“And as they are being fertilized, they also go to the tail, where they get attached with a cement to the little swimming appendages that flap around with long hairs on them, and these eggs are attaching there up to tens of thousands of eggs. And then this very good mother carries these eggs, and oxygenates them by flapping them through the water. She creates water currents so that all the waste products from the eggs are carried away. And she picks at these eggs so that the rotten ones get removed. And then after 9 to 11 months, they are ready to hatch. And at that point the larvae are now at a size that they can liberate themselves somehow.”

The mother helps with the liberation process by making a few large flaps with her tail, so that the larvae pop out of their eggs.

“When the eggs hatch into tiny lobster larvae, those little things are floating to the surface and are carried by ocean currents for three weeks or so. They pop out of their skin and grow a new one at a larger size. And they change into something that really looks like a lobster.”

Knowing about the lobster’s early life helps fishermen determine size guidelines, to ensure that consumers aren’t eating lobsters before they’ve had a chance to reproduce. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

Lobsters - Motherhood

Imagine carrying your babies around by the thousands while swimming through rough seas. That's life for a mother lobster.
Air Date:07/15/2009
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Transcript:

Lobsters - Motherhood

Music; Ambience: Ocean sounds

In the life of a lobster, motherhood is quite an ordeal. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Jelle Atema is a Boston University scientist who studies lobsters at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. He says that, after getting together with a mate to reproduce, the female lobster stores the sperm of the male in a special pouch for up to three years, biding her time. Now when she's ready to fertilize her eggs, she releases some of that stored sperm at just the right moment, so that the eggs and the sperm meet.

"And as they are being fertilized, they also go to the tail, where they get attached with a cement to the little swimming appendages that flap around with long hairs on them, and these eggs are attaching there up to tens of thousands of eggs. And then this very good mother carries these eggs, and oxygenates them by flapping them through the water. She creates water currents so that all the waste products from the eggs are carried away. And she picks at these eggs so that the rotten ones get removed. And then after 9 to 11 months, they are ready to hatch. And at that point the larvae are now at a size that they can liberate themselves somehow."

The mother helps with the liberation process by making a few large flaps with her tail, so that the larvae pop out of their eggs.

"When the eggs hatch into tiny lobster larvae, those little things are floating to the surface and are carried by ocean currents for three weeks or so. They pop out of their skin and grow a new one at a larger size. And they change into something that really looks like a lobster."

Knowing about the lobster's early life helps fishermen determine size guidelines, to ensure that consumers aren't eating lobsters before they've had a chance to reproduce. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.