For anyone with an interest in Maine lobsters which goes beyond the plastic bibs and melted butter, this is the "Everything You Always Wanted to Know..." resource. After spending two years aboard commercial lobster boats, meeting scientists dedicated to conserving the lobster as a natural resource, and studying the research about the lobster's habitat, breeding habits, and possible endangerment, author Trevor Corson has produced a highly readable, balanced account of what is happening in the industry and the remarkable co-operation which has evolved between some lobstermen and scientists.
Little Cranberry Island, just south of Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park in Maine, is a lobstering community with the perfect lobster habitat just off its coast, its lobstermen as concerned about preserving their livelihoods for the future as are scientists (many working for the government) about protecting the coast from "over-fishing." Until recently, however, the two groups had not pooled their knowledge, and scientists had not done enough on-site studies of how and where the lobsters live and breed and what constitutes the true threats to their continued existence. No one on either side really knew whether cyclical declines in the number of pounds caught were natural or induced by man.
Concentrating on the roles of individuals on the island and noted scientists engaged in unusual research, humanizing all of them and describing their day-to-day lives, Corson delves into seemingly arcane subjects, such as the lobster's mating rituals, molting and its effects, battles for territory (both by lobsters and fishermen), ocean currents that carry lobster larvae, natural "lobster nurseries," and the role of the extremely large lobsters which sometimes live in very deep water. The book is entertaining, and in a few cases humorous (a discussion of lobster courtship juxtaposed against the courtship of a lobsterman), but it is uncompromising in its attention to serious research and what has been discovered about the lobster's life cycle. Filled with insights into how and why scientists, lobstermen, the government, and the lobsters themselves all continue to behave as they do, this well-written account is accessible to scientists and laymen alike. Mary Whipple