Global Warming Is Driving Maine Lobsters to Extinction

© David Zentz/Getty Images/Aurora Creative

By Gillie Houston Posted September 28, 2016

If ocean temperatures continue to rise at their current rate, lobster population could be in trouble by 2100.

Lobster lovers, beware. Time might be running out to enjoy Maine's most beloved crustaceans, and the culprit is global warming. A new study by scientists at the University of Maine has found that if ocean temperatures continue to rise at their current rate, lobster populations could be in trouble by the year 2100.

Published in the latest issue of the ICES Journal of Marine Science, the report claims that lobster larvae, under close evaluation, had difficulty surviving in water five degrees warmer than the current average temperature of the Gulf of Maine, where many of the state's large lobster population call home. The 3,000 baby lobsters studied appeared to develop faster in warmer waters, but had more difficulty surviving than their cooler water counterparts.

The scientists conducting the study, from the university's Maine Darling Marine Center and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, raised the water temperature based on the UN's forecasts for the Gulf of Maine in 85 years.

Currently, the United States' overall lobster haul is as high as it's ever been—as is export demand from countries like Asia, where high-end diners are more increasingly seeking out the indulgent American fare. In 2014 alone, lobster fisherman earned a half billion dollars in value for their catch, The Associated Press reports. However, scientists caution that this peak period for lobster harvest could soon take a sharp downturn if coastal waterways continue to be affected by global warming.

Jesica Waller, a lead author of the study, hopes that this new data will call for further urgency to counteract climate change, which has already impacted the waters of New England.

"There has been a near total collapse in Rhode Island, the southern end of the fishery, and we know our waters are getting warmer," Waller told the AP, "We are hoping this research can be a jumping-off point for more research into how lobsters might do over the next century."

In the meantime, one thing's for sure: fans of the red crustacean might be wise to start eating all the lobster rolls you can now, because those days might be limited.

For 7 awesome ways to get your lobster fix, check out these recipes.

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