Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Ocean Science


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Gary Hitchcock

Second Advisor

Curtis Burney

Third Advisor

Robert A. Menzies

Fourth Advisor

Alan K. Craig


Interest in the potential usefulness of lobster trap escape gaps in the Florida spiny lobster fishery prompted an independent examination of their influence on capture and behavior of the spiny lobster, Panulirus argus. A trapping study was conducted off Southeastern Florida during 1984/1985 using control traps, and traps with escape gap openings of 51, 54, and 57 mm. The 51 mm escape gap caught significantly more legal lobsters than any other trap, while the 54 and 57 mm escape gap caught significantly fewer sublegal lobsters. Carapace lengths of lobsters increased as escape gap width increased.

The impact of escape gaps on behavior of Panulirus argus was examined through field and laboratory observations. Lobsters with a carapace length of 75 mm or less were observed entering and exiting through a 51 mm escape gap. Legal lobsters (≥76 mm CL) were unable to escape from the trap. Dominance interaction or agonistic behavior were postulated to affect catch rates in escape gap traps. Direct observations indicate they do not appear to be a factor influencing catch rates of lobsters in traps with escape gaps. It is hypothesized that the escape gap acts as an auxiliary opening, enhancing the potential of capturing a sublegal lobster.


Funding provided by Dr. Doris Bate of the Academy of Marine Sciences and Dr. Joseph Dorsey of the Institute for Marine and Medical Research.

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