Climate change promises big future for marine invertebrates

December 16, 2009

Lobsters that dwarf George the monstrous malacostracan will grace our tables in a warmer world, National Geographic News reports.

As the oceans’ temperatures rise, their pH will surely fall, with devastating consequences for calcareous marine creatures, whose supporting structures are based on the calcium carbonate species that cannot precipitate from acidic waters.

Topshells, bivalves and other delicious fruits de mer face a squishy future, as our ever-sharpening oceans preclude the construction of their mobile homes.

But just as we contemplate a future of dismal evenings spent pushing our forks through distressingly yielding post-apocalyptic paellas, news comes that higher carbon dioxide concentrations will provide a cornucopia of supersized lobsters, crab and shrimp.

A recent UNC Marine Sciences study indicates that marine crustacea will find it increasingly easy to gain weight as CO2 levels rise.

But readers even now reaching for the clarified butter might first wish to check the oil in their bandsaws, as the scientists found the higher CO2 concentrations helped the animals to bulk up their chitinous exoskeletons, rather than the delicious soft tissue favoured by gourmands.

Furthermore, collosal crab will remain resolutely absent from the menu if oceanic acidification proves deleterious to their favoured food: the corals.

Higher temperatures are expected to force the corals’ symbiotic algae to flee for cooler climes, “bleaching” the famed submarine gardens, and pulling the rug from beneath the ecosystems they underpin.

So seafood lovers should pay especially close attention to the outcome of this month’s COP15 talks in Copenhagen, lest our spineless chums prove more impenetrable than they already are.

The lobster’s off

January 20, 2009

Crusty crustacean dodges death by broth

A 140-year-old lobster named George, recently captured in Canadian waters, is to be set free by the restaurant that bought him, according to a Reuters report.  The methuselan malacostracan briefly served as a mascot at City Crab and Seafood, but will be tipped back into the icy depths following the intervention of PETA.

“We applaud the folks at City Crab and Seafood for their compassionate decision to allow this noble old-timer to live out his days in freedom and peace,” said Ingrid Newkirk of PETA.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” added restaurant manager Keith Valenti.

Calculating a lobster’s age is an inexact science, but a rule of thumb (or perhaps claw) is that they pile on an additional pound every seven to ten years.  Incidentally, this makes me over 1270 in lobster years.

More than you ever wanted to know about lobsters can be found in a David Foster Wallace article for Gourmet Magazine.