Lobsters are able to safely consume jellyfish without harm from the venomous stingers due to a set of physical adaptations. The answer, according to researchers at Japan’s Hiroshima University, lies in a weird way they package their feces.
Lobsters grow for years before converting into a red-shelled main meal. In their early life stages, the larvae of slipper and spiny lobsters are about the size of an adult’s thumbnail and almost transparent. The larvae travel around the ocean on the bodies of jellyfish while consuming them alive, including the deadly tentacles.
Lobsters’ intestines are filled with identical hard plates of chitin that surface the outside of their solid bodies. Under the microscope, researchers noticed the feces pellets were covered tightly in sheets of a peritrophic membrane. They usually allow specific small molecules to move in both directions but are clearly strong enough to stop the stingers from reaching the lobster. However, the intestinal protection does not cover the middle third of the length of the lobsters’ intestines, leaving their midgut unprotected from the stingers.
Kaori Wakabayashi, Ph.D., and leader of a research group at Hiroshima University has studied lobster spread with the goal of producing food for farmed lobsters. Because of their poorly understood nutrition, lobsters are not farmed on the scale of crab, shrimp or fish. Farmed marine species are frequently fed sardines, which led to a dramatic reduction of global sardine populations.
Kaori Wakabayashi said that based on the contents of their feces, the lobster larvae only absorb fluid-type foods, which is essential to know as they developed an artificial food for farmed lobsters to grow efficiently and healthily.
Jellyfish stingers are impressive things, used both as protection against predators and to catch the invertebrates’ own prey.
Moreover, the progress of farm-raised mussels and other shellfish has evolved into a deficiency of global sardines– the fish that is generally used as a provision.
Researchers anticipate that their conclusions will make farmed shellfish more sustainable, as well as help aquatic farmers, find a method to favorably raise lobsters.
In the future, artificial food will enable farmers to give their lobsters accessible, sustainable, and safe nutrition despite the availability of other marine resources, weather or locality.
Image source: Wikipedia