First baby lobsters from Wells hatchery returned to the sea

A dive team returned the approximately 250 baby lobsters, all reared at the Port of Wells hatchery on September 5, 

A dive team returned the approximately 250 baby lobsters, all reared at the Port of Wells hatchery on September 5. - Credit: Robert Smith

The first batch of lobsters from a hatchery in Wells set up to make fishing more sustainable have been released back into the wild.

Harbourmaster Robert Smith and a dive team returned roughly 250 baby lobsters, all reared at the Port of Wells hatchery, on September 5, taking them out on their inflatable boat, the William T.

The hatchery, which was launched in June, is a joint effort between Wells harbour and the fishermen in the town as they look to make lobster fishing more sustainable.

Simon Cooper, Wells Harbour administrator, with the first two lobsters at the new Wells Harbour Hatc

Simon Cooper, Wells Harbour administrator, with the first two lobsters at the new Wells Harbour Hatchery, with the tank which will house the berried hens (female lobsters with eggs known as berries, under their abdomen). Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The project is being fronted by Simon Cooper, the harbour administrator. The first berried hen, a female lobster with fertilised eggs held on the underside of her abdomen, arrived after they unveiled the hatchery back in June.

Shortly after they had their first hatchling.

Over the last six weeks, they have been nurturing them and growing the baby lobsters for a little longer than they expected to increase the chances of their success.

Mr Cooper said: “By introducing 250 lobsters into the wild, we significantly increased the chances that some will make it to adulthood, which is incredibly difficult to do if just born into the wild.

“We also increased the odds by using scuba dive release so they have the best chance of burying themselves into the seabed where they stay for the next two years in an area we know is good ground for them.”

A dive team returned the approximately 250 baby lobsters, all reared at the Port of Wells hatchery on September 5, 

A dive team returned the baby lobsters, all reared at the Port of Wells hatchery, on September 5. - Credit: Robert Smith

Most Read

The dive team was made up of a member of the Wells Harbour commissioners staff, Andy Potts, and dive buddies Kev and Emma Rix.

Mr Cooper is now looking forward to expanding the hatchery over the next year after the first successful return.

The baby lobsters are so small they fit into ice cub trays. 

The baby lobsters are so small they fit into ice cube trays. - Credit: Robert Smith

“This year has all been about learning the process and ensuring we meet the high standards of being an aquaculture venue,” he said.

“We intend next year to ramp up the operation and significantly increase the number of baby lobsters as well as opening the hatchery to visitors, and having local schools visit for educational purposes too.

“We will also look at ways to invite local residents to visit the centre and recruit volunteers through the summer when the feeding regime of babies is intensive and unrelenting, as we experienced this year.”

Robert Smith, left, Wells Harbourmaster and Simon Cooper, Wells Harbour administrator, at the new We

Robert Smith, left, Wells Harbourmaster and Simon Cooper, Wells Harbour administrator, at the new Wells Harbour Hatchery, who are hoping their first berried hens (female lobsters with eggs known as berries) will arrive in a few weeks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter