Climate Change Turning Lobsters Into Cannibals

Lobster cannibalism is on the rise.

According to marine biology graduate student Noah Oppenheim, as waters become warmer due to climate change lobsters begin chomping down on each other for food.

While conducting tests for the University of Maine on Hurrican Island, Oppenheim discovered the cannibalism, which is the first time this magnitude of cannibalism has been documented in the wild. When young lobsters were left underwater overnight, he found that they were 90 percent more likely to be eaten by another lobster than by some other predator.

In captivity, lobsters are known to tear one another apart. This is why you see those rubber bands tied around their pincers when you visit the seafood section of your local market.

To capture the cannibalistic nature of the lobsters, Oppenheim released a single lobster into the water with an infrared camera. “The lobster cannibalism occurs when there are a lot of lobsters and not enough natural food for them to share,” he explains. “Climate change is warming the waters the lobsters live in, which makes them reproduce more.”

Over the last 10 years, the Gulf of Maine has hit record temperature levels and over-fished waters leave little for lobsters to eat.

About 21 years ago, fish were the lobsters’ primary predators, but now, lobsters are more likely to be eaten by lobsters than anything else.