Scientists Say Lobsters Make Far-Reaching Noises

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A species of lobster creates a unique sound that can be heard up to three kilometers away, scientists say. Called European spiny lobsters, these crustaceans are commonly found in deep waters off of Great Britain and Ireland. The lobsters produce sounds, called antennal rasps, by rubbing their antennae against rough areas below their eyes. According to the scientists, these sounds might be used as a means to communicate or to ward off predators. To learn more about these antennal rasps, scientists observed 24 European spiny lobsters off the coast of France. They submerged eight microphones and set them up at various distances from the lobsters. Results showed that the distance the sounds could reach varied with the lobsters’ sizes. Large lobsters produced antennal rasps audible 100 meters away, while average-sized lobsters created sounds that could be heard 50 meters away. In contrast, small lobsters made rasps that could only be heard up to 10 meters away. Scientists speculate that under certain conditions—like low underwater noise levels—the largest European spiny lobsters can produce antennal rasps that may be detected up to three kilometers away. The researchers believe that the study can be used to improve conservation efforts for the lobsters. Currently, it is customary for conservation groups to use nets to estimate the crustaceans' population, but this is an invasive and destructive procedure. According to the researchers, observing the lobsters' antennal rasps would be a better method of monitoring and managing the species' population because it is non-invasive.

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