Scientists Say Lobsters Make Far-Reaching Noises

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. crustacean / krʌˈsteɪ ʃən / (n) – a type of animal that has an outer shell, many legs, and lives in water

    A new species of crustacean was found in the sea near my city.

  2. ward off / wɔrd ɔf / (phrasal) – to avoid danger or harm

    Social distancing measures are now in place to ward off the spread of the virus.

  3. submerge / səbˈmɜrdʒ / (v) – to cause something to be under water

    Many cars on the street were submerged by the flood.

  4. detect / dɪˈtɛkt / (v) – to notice or recognize the existence of something

    After several tests, the doctors did not detect any infection in the patient’s body.

  5. customary / ˈkʌs təˌmɛr i / (adj) – describing something that is done based on a custom or tradition

    It is customary for Americans to serve roast turkey on Thanksgiving.


Read the text below.

A species of lobster creates a unique sound that can be heard up to three kilometers away, scientists say.

Called European spiny lobsters, these crustaceans are commonly found in deep waters off of Great Britain and Ireland. The lobsters produce sounds, called antennal rasps, by rubbing their antennae against rough areas below their eyes. According to the scientists, these sounds might be used as a means to communicate or to ward off predators.

To learn more about these antennal rasps, scientists observed 24 European spiny lobsters off the coast of France. They submerged eight microphones and set them up at various distances from the lobsters.

Results showed that the distance the sounds could reach varied with the lobsters’ sizes. Large lobsters produced antennal rasps audible 100 meters away, while average-sized lobsters created sounds that could be heard 50 meters away. In contrast, small lobsters made rasps that could only be heard up to 10 meters away.

Scientists speculate that under certain conditions—like low underwater noise levels—the largest European spiny lobsters can produce antennal rasps that may be detected up to three kilometers away.

The researchers believe that the study can be used to improve conservation efforts for the lobsters. Currently, it is customary for conservation groups to use nets to estimate the crustaceans’ population, but this is an invasive and destructive procedure. According to the researchers, observing the lobsters’ antennal rasps would be a better method of monitoring and managing the species’ population because it is non-invasive.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that putting microphones underwater can be an effective non-invasive way to monitor the European spiny lobsters? Why or why not?
• After reading this article, do you feel concerned that the methods used by conservation groups might actually be hurting the animals they want to protect? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think it’s important to study animals’ ways of communication? Why or why not?
• Which animal’s way of communication would you like scientists to further study about? Why?