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Global Warming is Turning Lobsters into Cannibals

And we've got the videos to prove it. Plus, other assorted lobster carnage porn.

by Brian Merchant
Dec 3 2012, 10:00pm

Lobsters don't play nice with each other; those claws get banded up for a reason. When they're piled up inside those depressing, algae-addled aquariums at seafood joints, if it weren't for those rubber bands, they'd fight, tear apart, even eat their captive brethren. 

And if one of the lobsters happens to perish before he makes it to the boiling pot anyway, and you happen to be seated close enough to that aquarium, you might have born witness to a scene like this:

But scientists only observed such aggressive, cannibalistic behavior when the crustaceans were locked up in captivity and mashed together unnaturally—it was assumed that no such thing happened in the wild. Well it does now, thanks to climate change, thinning predators, and subsequently burgeoning lobster populations. 

Reuters reports that "Researchers studying Maine's lobster population, booming in recent years amid warming waters and disappearing predators, have detected something never before seen in the wild: lobster cannibalism."

Below, Noah Oppenheim, of the University of Maine, explains his findings.  

So the big ones eat the little ones now, mostly because there are so damned many of them. Species preservation be damned; there's a crowd, and a man's gotta eat.

"We've got the lobsters feeding back on themselves just because they're so abundant. It's never been observed just out in the open like this," Richard Wahle, the research supervisor, told Reuters. 

So now we're apt to see scenes like this in the wild:

In Maine, warming waters spurred by climate change makes for a thriving lobster population—even as it throws those in Long Island and southern New England off kilter. South of Maine, the lobster are actually dying off, victims to an environment more conducive to disease. But at least they're not eating each other; they can't afford to just now. 

Funny, our massive bout of climate meddling has yielded a few new, disparate and differently disturbing fates to the world's best-tasting crustaceans—they either die off from disease or get eaten by grandpa. That is, if we don't catch them and boil them alive first.