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The size at which female lobsters reach sexual maturity was determined for two populations that inhabit waters along the coast of New Hampshire. One group was captured in the Great Bay estuary, where water temperatures in the summer typically average between 17 C and 20 C. The other gorup of lobsters resided in coastal waters, near the Isles of Shoals, where the water temperature was much colder during the summer (11-15 C). Maturity was assessed using criteria that included the following: ovarian classification; abdominal width/carapce length (CL) ratio; and the size frequency distribution of berried females. All the techniques yielded similar results and consistently demonstrated that female lobsters in the estuary matured at a smaller size than those in colder coastal waters. The smallest mature females from Great Bay were 72 mm in CL, with 50% reaching sexual maturity by 83 mm CL and all becoming mature by 89 mm CL. The difference in the proportion of mature lobsters in the estuarine versus coastal populations was much greater in the smaler size classes than in the larger size claases, suggesting a mixing of the two populations, most likely due to females from Great Bay migrating into coastal waters.
Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, Biological Sciences
Journal of Shellfish Research
National Shellfisheries Association
Little, S. A. and W. H. Watson III. 2003. Size at maturity of female American lobsters from an estuarine coastal population. J. Shellfish Res. 22: 857-864.
© National Shellfisheries Association,2003