DV-13-12 Developing an ultrasound telemetry tag for marine crustaceans

Walter Golet
University of Maine

Crustaceans, including lobster and crab, support Maine's commercial fishing industry and the coastal economy. Monitoring lobster health and behavior is crucial to anticipating future changes in the fishery, and lobsters serve as a kind of indicator of the overall health of the Gulf of Maine. Observing the physical health of lobsters and other crustacean in the wild, as opposed to the laboratory, would provide scientists with better information about their physiology and behavior and potential sensitivity to environmental factors.

Golet proposes to take a technology popular among fisheries scientists—ultrasonic telemetry—and adapt it to marine crustaceans. Special tags on fish transmit signals (such as presence/absence, heart rate, and muscle movements) to receivers placed in the water, which record the data for later analysis by scientists. Current technology is unsuited for crustaceans, however, because it can’t detect the smaller amplitude of crustacean heartbeats and muscle activity. Measuring such parameters can help scientists estimate growth rates, reproductive output, response to habitat changes, etc., revealing how an animal tolerates different conditions, such as changing water temperature. Golet has tested crustacean monitoring devices in the lab, and Sea Grant funds will support further research and development of a new ultrasonic transmitter for monitoring lobster health in the wild.

Sea Grant funds: $3,000