ELLSWORTH — Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) may have figured out why lobster prices fell to their lowest level in decades last spring.
Or maybe not.
Glen Gawarkiewicz, a senior scientist in WHOI’s physical oceanography department, and five of his colleagues recently published their findings that in October of 2011, the core of the Gulf Steam at the edge, or break, of the Continental Shelf had pushed 125 miles north of its usual position near Georges Bank. It was the farthest north at that longitude that the Gulf Stream had ever been observed.
This past spring when the lobster fishing season got under way, dealers were soon inundated by huge quantities of soft-shelled shedders lobstermen landed along much of the Maine coast. With Canadian processors dealing with their own glut of locally caught lobsters, the price of Maine lobsters almost collapsed and many desperate lobstermen were selling their catch to retail shoppers for less than $2 a pound.