Rhode Island Lobsters Again Affected By Shell Disease

Aug 14, 2013

Once again lobsters off the shores of Rhode Island and Massachusetts are being plagued by a disease that affects their shells. 

But reportedly the disease has grown harsher.

Lobsters throughout New England have been affected by a disease which eats at their shells for decades, though biologists say it's getting worse.
Credit Creative Commons Image

Epizoodic shell disease, or as it commonly known, lobster shell disease, has been in New England for years.

The disease is a bacteria which eats away at the lobster’s shell, causing deterioration, but is generally not fatal.

But Thomas Angell, a marine biologist with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said the disease became more powerful after the North Cape oil spill in 1996.

“Typically in the shell disease that occurred in the past, it was a very minor infection of the shell, whereas this newer form essentially eats away most of the shell and affects more than 80 percent of the shell itself," said Angell.

The disease affects up to 30 percent of the lobster population New England.

Rates of disease rise in the fall and winter after lobsters have completed their molting cycle.

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