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Tasmanian study shows seismic effect on lobsters

Source: Port Lincoln Times

Jarrad Delaney


A study has reaffirmed concerns by local rock lobster fishers that seismic testing can have an effect on the sensory organs and righting reflexes of rock lobster.

Scientists from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, together with Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University have conducted a study which has been published in the biological science journal 'Proceedings of the Royal Society B'.

Lead author Dr Ryan Day said the decision to study the effects on rock lobster was because the lobsters were a high value fishery and an important part of global marine ecosystems.

He said the test did not test did not factor in ecological impacts.

"Previous studies have shown that the statocyst, a sensory organ on a lobster's head, is critical in controlling their righting reflex, enabling them to remain coordinated and evade predators," he said.

"After exposing lobsters to the equivalent of a commercial air gun signal at a range of 100-150 metres, our study found that the animals suffered significant and lasting damage to their statocyst and righting reflexes.

"The damage was incurred at the time of exposure and persisted for at least one year - surprisingly, even after the exposed lobsters moulted."

South Australian Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fisherman's Association executive officer Kyri Toumazos said this study reaffirmed industry concerns about seismic surveys in the Great Australian Bight.

"This (study) is certainly clear indication we need caution, we hope the government will take it on board and all environmental regulators," he said.

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