Tiny lobster slips away from its usual habitat

A RARE and exciting catch was made recently when a commercial fisherman returned with a Mediterranean slipper lobster.

Brandon Le Touche, a crew member on Joe Nichols’ boat, pulled out the 10cm lobster, and asked Mr Nichols what it was.

‘I’ve been fishing for 25 years and have never caught one,’ Mr Nichols said.

‘Another commercial fisherman has not had one for around 20 years and others had heard of them but had never seen one.’

They are usually found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, but Mr Nichols expected that the mild temperatures recently had meant it could survive drifting all the way to the south of Jethou where he found it.

He brought it back to the fish quay for others to look at, and Mr Le Touche contacted marine biologist Richard Lord to record it as well. He will soon release it back where he found it.

Mr Lord studied fisheries at university but has more recently turned his attention to marine litter.

‘This is a very rare and exciting find,’ he said. ‘I have heard of one being caught about three years ago, but it is very unusual for them to be found in local waters.’

Mr Lord had never seen one in person before, except in the Mediterranean.

‘I do not know if they would reproduce in our waters, but our water conditions and mild temperatures mean it certainly can survive here,’ he said.

The 10cm Mediterranean slipper lobster caught from Joe Nichols’ boat has no commercial value and the decision to return it to the sea has been welcomed by marine biologist Richard Lord. (28739095)

‘Being so small it has pretty much no commercial value, so putting it back is definitely the right call – it would be fantastic if the species could flourish here.’

Mr Lord thought the species might have become extinct in local waters in the 1960s and stressed the importance of recording sightings such as this to the Guernsey Biological Records Centre so that long-term trends can be observed.

‘We can then look into how species change, perhaps what causes them to change in the natural environment and what humans’ influence is on species,’ he said.

. The textbook name for the lobster is a small European locus lobster, but it is commonly known by its family name, the slipper lobster.

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