Casco Bay Island Schools Investigate Lobster Trap Bycatch: Long Island Edition

Friday, December 13, 2013 by Kim Little

As part of the Island Institute's WeatherBlur Project the Casco Bay island schools were curious to see which species were being caught as bycatch (non-targeted species) in lobster traps.

The Long Island Elementary School students decided to haul traps off the dock on the northwest side of the island.

They also enlisted the help of two local lobstermen, David Johnson and Stephen Train, to collect data from their traps further offshore.

They were not only curious to see which species they caught, but also what gender.  Here the students show how to tell the difference between male and female crabs. It was noted that the triangle on the female looked like the capitol building while the triangle on the male looked more like the Washington Monument.

Here is what they found:


-       There were a lot more male green crabs than female green crabs. About 80% were    males and 20% females.

-       In their study most of the green crabs were in the medium size range, 7-8cm

-       The lobstermen didn’t catch any green crabs in the deeper water where they were hauling.

They also found that some of the bycatch had bycatch!

One of the best parts of the project was getting to work with the other island schools, Chebeague Island, Cliff Island, and Peaks Island. You can find more of their data, including pictures, graphs, and cool bycatch videos here.

If you would like to create your own investigation check out programs, like WeatherBlur or Vital Signs, in your area for helpful resources.

Have you found any cool bycatch while you were out fishing or exploring?

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