The Smart Lobster project is monitoring the burrowing habits of the Dublin Bay Prawn Photo: The Marine InstituteThe Smart Lobster project is monitoring the burrowing habits of the Dublin Bay Prawn Photo: The Marine Institute

The Marine Institute is collaborating with scientists in Spain on a new project to monitor the digging activity and maintenance of burrows of the Dublin Bay Prawn, using the EMSO SmartBay Observatory located in Galway Bay.

Current methods for counting populations of Nephrops norvegicus cannot account for variability in the animals emerging from their burrows. The Smart Lobster project aims to understand the magnitude of that variability and lead to more accurate assessment of population numbers.

Dr Paul Connolly, chief executive of the Marine Institute said, “Nephrops are one of the most important commercial fishery resources in Europe, and the knowledge from the Smart Lobster project will assist in the sustainable management of this species.”

Over the next 12 months, Nephrops will be monitored using the underwater camera at the EMSO SmartBay Observatory which is located at a depth of 20m to 25m on the seabed off the coast of Spiddal in Galway Bay, one of the North East Atlantic fishery grounds for this species. The project will also involve the use of a new autonomous imaging device.

The scientists will evaluate and analyse the video footage to assess the digging activity and maintenance of burrows as well as analysing the role of ecological and environmental factors that modulate burrow emergence such as the presence of prey or predators.

The results of the project will have implications for stock assessment of this species, allowing standardisation of demographic data obtained with trawl nets and towed sledges upon animals’ burrow emergence variability.

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