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Picture the American ideal of a lobster and what do you see? Is it an expensive bright-red crustacean on a silver platter? Well, while that may be most people’s sole perception of these animals, lobsters are so much more than a delicacy. They are intelligent animals, and they’re in trouble

More than a Commodity 

Maine is home to a half-billion-dollar-a-year industry that many families rely on. Last year the fishermen caught a very large amount of lobsters. The ocean was bustling with the highly sought-after crustacean, and next year’s turnout is predicted to be similarly successful (for the fishermen, obviously not for the lobsters). However, lobster is so much more than expensive seafood, or a pricey industry, these are live, sentient beings.

Did you know that lobsters can live to be 100 years old if left alone and not killed prematurely for food? They can also feel pain and will pick at wounds or the stumps of torn-off limbs. But that’s not all. Lobsters are incredibly emotionally intelligent and can “recognize other individual lobsters, remember past acquaintances and have elaborate courtship rituals.” To pass them off as alive but emotionless is not just inhumane, it’s incorrect. 

Their intelligence has even been compared to that of octopuses. However, the intelligence of an animal shouldn’t dictate whether they deserve to live (imagine if we did that to people!), but it does help explain that these crustaceans deserve to live. 

Global Warming 

The Gulf of Maine has been warming faster than 99 percent of the other oceans, which is outstandingly terrifying. Lobsters are cold-water creatures so this warming is a serious threat to their populations. According to National Geographic, “surface waters in the gulf warmed by 5.4° Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius)” between 2004 and 2013. Climate change deniers might argue that a few degrees in temperature change are insignificant, but our ecosystems are incredibly sensitive. This is an outstandingly high rise in water temperatures. Just because you might be able to walk out in hotter weather, doesn’t mean other animals are able to survive. 

In 2011 and 2012, cold air wasn’t entering the gulf anymore, and by 2017 (after two heatwaves in the area) natural patterns completely disappeared. Fishermen were catching marine life they have never caught or even seen before. So what does that mean? It means climate change is uprooting how fish move and where they go. It’s all becoming unpredictable.

Another blow to the lobster population occurred in 1999, when Maine saw an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease, West Nile virus. Insecticides were sprayed to get rid of them, but lobsters, crustaceans, and insects are also sensitive to these and suffered. 

It’s not all bad though. Warming waters are helping lobsters in a few ways. The rising temperatures have gotten rid of cod, which is their predator. It also helps younger lobsters travel in waters that would normally be too cold for them. However, the water is not finished warming, and scientists aren’t sure what will happen to the lobsters when it gets even hotter.

There have been accounts from fishermen that lobsters are dying. 

First Step 

The first thing everyone can do is to stop eating lobster. It’s unethical and we cannot risk killing them, especially when the future of the species is uncertain. These creatures deserve to live up to 100 and prosper in the cool-temperatures waters they evolved to thrive in.

Sign this petition to demand that British lawmakers pass the Animal Welfare (Sentient) Bill that would give crustaceans and mollusks like lobsters rights!

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