When it comes to seafood, Alaska is known for its bountiful salmon, whitefish, and shellfish options. But what about lobsters?
Are there any to be found in the frigid waters of Alaska? While the answer may surprise you, it’s not a simple yes or no.
In this article, we’ll explore the world of lobsters and their presence in Alaska waters. From the misconceptions about their lifespan to the unique thermal requirements of different species, we’ll dive deep into the topic and uncover the truth about lobsters in Alaska.
So grab a cup of hot cocoa and get ready to learn something new about these delicious crustaceans.
Are There Lobsters In Alaska Waters?
The short answer is yes, there are lobsters in Alaska waters. However, it’s important to note that they are not the same type of lobsters you may be familiar with.
The Alaska Spot Prawn, also known as Pandalus platyceros, is often referred to as a “lobster” due to its large size and delicious taste. But in reality, it’s a type of shrimp native to the West Coast of North America.
While not technically a lobster, the Alaska Spot Prawn is still a highly sought-after seafood option in Alaska. It’s known for its sweet flavor and firm texture, making it a favorite among seafood lovers.
Misconceptions About Lobsters In Alaska
When it comes to lobsters in Alaska, there are many misconceptions that people have. One common misconception is that Alaska is a giant wasteland with no technology or society. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While much of Alaska is in the arctic, there are still several cities of reasonable size, including Anchorage, which is a pretty decent-sized city with suburbs surrounding it.
Another misconception is that lobsters in Alaska are hard to come by. While it’s true that the Alaska Spot Prawn is not technically a lobster, it’s still a highly sought-after seafood option in Alaska. Additionally, there are actual lobsters found in Alaska waters, but they are not the same type of lobsters you may be familiar with.
There is also a belief that hard-shelled lobsters taste the best. However, this is a matter of personal preference. Many lobster fishers in Alaska actually favor the “new” lobsters for their sweet flavor. During molting, the shell fills with sea water, which effectively brines the meat, giving it a sweet flavor and tender texture.
Finally, there are concerns about “ghost” traps depleting the lobster stock in Alaska waters. While lost pots on the bottom of the ocean can continue to allure and trap lobsters who venture into them simply for shelter, many conservationists and a few lobstermen would like to see traps manufactured with a “self-destruct” section through which lobsters could escape after a period of time.
The Different Species Of Lobsters And Their Thermal Requirements
When it comes to true lobsters, there are a few different species that have varying thermal requirements. In a study conducted off the coast of southeast Australia, the thermal tolerances of two different lobster species were investigated to see how they might respond to warming ocean temperatures.
The eastern rock lobster, Sagmariasus verreauxi, was found to have a warmer optimal temperature for aerobic scope and escape speed than the southern rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii. However, J. edwardsii had a higher magnitude of escape speed, indicating a higher capacity for escape performance.
Additionally, the study found that there were differences in optimal temperatures between measures and life stages within each species. The larval stage had higher variation in optimal temperatures between measures than juveniles, indicating that single performance measures at single life stages may not accurately predict whole animal performance.
Lobster Fishing In Alaska
Alaska may not have the traditional lobsters found in the Northeast, but there are still opportunities for lobster fishing in Alaska waters. Lobster fishing in Alaska primarily involves the Alaska Spot Prawn, which can be caught from June to September.
The Alaska Spot Prawn can be found in the cold, deep waters off the coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The prawns are typically caught using traps or pots, similar to lobster fishing in other parts of the world.
One advantage of fishing for Alaska Spot Prawns is their durability. They can survive out of water for up to 72 hours due to their thick shells, making them easier to transport and deliver fresh to consumers or supermarkets.
However, like many other fisheries, the Alaska Spot Prawn population has faced challenges in recent years. Overfishing and warmer waters have caused a decline in the population, leading to shorter fishing seasons and lower catch limits.
Despite these challenges, Alaska Spot Prawn remains a popular seafood option in Alaska and beyond. In addition to being delicious, they are also a sustainable seafood choice when caught responsibly.
The Future Of Lobster Populations In Alaska Waters
When it comes to true lobsters, such as those found in Maine and Southern New England, the future of their populations in Alaska waters is uncertain. While lobsters have been found in Alaska waters, they are not native to the region and their presence may be linked to changing ocean temperatures and currents.
According to researchers, warming waters due to climate change are causing shifts in lobster populations. While Maine’s lobster population remains healthy, there have been declines in lobster larvae settlement over the past 10 to 15 years in other areas. This is due not only to warmer temperatures, but also changes in the quality of food that lobster larvae depend on as they grow.
Additionally, the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank are warming faster than almost any other part of the world’s oceans, leading to southerly species moving in. This includes lobsters, which have become more abundant in these areas while declining in Southern New England.
The collapse of Alaska’s Bering Sea snow crab harvest in 2023 was partially attributed to warming waters as a result of climate change, which could be pushing crab populations northwards or into Russian waters. It’s possible that similar shifts could occur with lobster populations in Alaska waters as well.