Richard A. French, a specialist in animal disease at the University of Connecticut, often comes to work wearing a lobster tie tack he bought at a shellfish conference. He’s had lobsters on the brain lately, particularly the mystery of why hundreds of thousands of lobsters have died within the last year in Long Island Sound.
In the western end of the Sound, which separates Connecticut from Long Island’s north shore, lobster landings went from historic highs in late 1997 to a nearly collapsed stock two years later. Beginning in the fall of 1999, lobster trappers in the area, off Greenwich, Norwalk, and Bridgeport, Conn., reported that from 60 to 99 percent of the market-sized lobsters showing up in their pots were dead.
By late 1999, the problem had spread eastward to encompass the entire Sound. Although just a year before the Sound had supported a $42 million-a-year lobster industry, lobster boat owners were beginning to talk about getting out of the business.
The lobster tragedy comes at a time when Long Island Sound’s water is cleaner than it h... Read more