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Lobster Cannibalism Discovered In Crowded Seas December 7, 2012
Lobster study revealing cannibalism of the species.
Night vision cameras capture images of a large lobster eating a much younger one in Maine's coastal waters.
A booming population of lobsters off the Maine coast appears to be crowding the crustaceans into cannibalism, researchers say.

It’s long been known that the sea creatures will attack and eat each other if crammed together in small spaces.

This is why their claws are banded when put into supermarket lobster tanks.

But now Richard Wahle, a marine sciences professor at the University of Maine, says he’s observed the behavior for the first time in the wild.

“We've got the lobsters feeding back on themselves just because they're so abundant,” he told Reuters.

He blames the population boom on warming waters in the Gulf of Maine due to climate change.

Wahle and colleagues found that larger lobsters are now regularly feeding on little ones after sundown.

Using special underwater photography, Wahle and graduate student Noah Oppenheim found that during the daytime, fish are what typically feed on young lobsters.

But at night, most of the attacks on the small lobsters were by their larger counterparts.

Photo: Noah Oppenheim - University of Maine