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Floating Spiny Lobster Hatchery

Establishing a production-level spiny lobster hatchery is
the most challenging element of the project.
The approximately 8 months required for the hatched eggs to progress through its planktonic forms (phyllosoma) to the juvenile lobster form is the longest of any marine invertebrate.

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Photo of spiny lobster puerulus, the post-larval form that becomes a juvenile lobster


Photo of spiny lobster puerulus and juvenile lobsters. 

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The Spiny Green Lobster Hatchery has Five Main Goals: 

  • Operational: To provide a dependable source of lobster juveniles for a Lobster Aquaculture operation which enables local fishermen to farm the ocean sustainably.

  • Technical: Determine the optimal conditions and feeding regimes to support the maturation of phyllosoma to juvenile lobsters.

  • Environmental: To reduce the harvest pressure on the local wild population by enabling a robust harvest of farmed spiny green lobster.

  • Scientific: Document the life cycle of the Spiny Green Lobster, which is currently listed as “data deficient” on the IUCN Red List.

  • Research: To provide a site for further research into improved husbandry and propagation techniques for contained open water hatcheries

Hatchery Test Bed 

  • The long-term plan is to construct a commercial scale hatchery that will be capable of supplying about 12 spiny lobster aquaculture operations. This commercial hatchery is projected to cost around $70,000.

  • Over the next 4 months, we will construct a small scale version of the commercial hatchery in Ostional to fully test all structures and processes of the planned commercial hatchery

  • The hatchery test bed will include six 1,100 liter hatchery pods and twelve 200 liter hatchery pods. These multiple independent containers will provide the opportunity to evaluate various environmental conditions and feeding regimes to determine the optimum conditions for development of juvenile lobsters.

  • This test bed is projected to cost about $9,000 and should be completed this summer.

Wind Powered Ingenuity

  • The hatchery test bed will also be a demonstration of wind-powered systems to support all necessary hatchery mechanical functions.

  • In Ostional, the wind is almost always blowing.  Wind driven systems are a logical way to provide a clean continuous and sustainable power source.

  • The test hatchery will have two propellers that are each about 9 feet in diameter.  The twin propellers provide double redundancy for the three hatchery systems they support. So if one wind powertrain system fails the remaining propeller and powertrain will be capable of keeping all the hatchery support systems operating .

  • The primary function of the wind-powered system is to provide a continuous flow of  sea water to the hatchery pods to maintain a clean environment with properties identical to the surrounding ocean water.  The double action water pump is virtually identical to the basic design used by the Romans 2,000 years ago – simple, effective and reliable.   The plumbing to each pod will include valves to enable customized flow rates.

  • The second wind powered system is an auxiliary aeration system to ensure an oxygen-rich environment for the young lobsters.  Just as for flow rate, the system will allow for customized levels of aeration for each pod.

  • The final system is an electricity generator with battery backup to provide safety lights at night and support any other functions requiring electricity.

  • In case the wind fails, our backup plan is to have a solar powered auxiliary electric pump. The long term plan is to convert to wave power, because the wave power is constant.

Appropriate Technology Objective

Our objective is to develop and refine a spiny lobster production hatchery structure and methodology that can be reproduced at an affordable cost using materials and technologies appropriate for developing countries.  If achieved, this spiny lobster aquaculture plus hatchery model could be replicated throughout the world in any impoverished or overfished region for the benefit of the local fishermen and their families.

Educational Opportunity

  • The Spiny Green Lobster is listed as “data deficient” on the UN Red List.  One of our objectives is to support a scientific study and publication detailing the life cycle of this species.  

  • TAMTF plans to partner with universities in Nicaragua and the US, to provided educational opportunities for students in Marine Biology and related fields.   These students would be expected to contribute to the scientific support of both hatchery and aquaculture operations.

  • Support for these projects, including potential expansion of aquaculture and hatchery technologies to other species in addition to spiny lobster, would be enhanced significantly by invitation of visiting scientists who are experts in these fields.

  • These projects could also provide educational opportunities for local communities on the value and benefits of aquaculture and protecting marine environments.

Schematic of floating hatchery with twin propellers to provide redundancy for three critical systems to support hatchery operations.


Scientific papers by Dr. Jason Goldstein

J.S.Goldstein, H. Matsuda, T.R. Matthews, F. Abe, T. Yamakawa, 2019, Journal of Crustacean Biology, 39(5): 574-58, Development in culture of larval spotted spiny lobster Panulirus guttatus

Jason S. Goldstein, Brian Nelson. 2011. Application of a gelatinous zooplankton tank for the mass production of larval Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus. Aquat. Living Resour. 24: 45–51  

Jason S. Goldstein, H. Matsuda, T. Takenouchi, Mark J. Butler IV. 2008. The complete development of larval Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus (Latreille, 1804) in culture. Journal of Crustacean Biology. 28(02): 306–327  

J.S.Goldstein, 2006, 'Connecting the Dots' in the Caribbean: An Overview and Directed Approach for Long-term Spiny Lobster Puerulus Settlement Studies,  57th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute: 833–845 

Scientific research on marine ecosystems
along the Nicaraguan coast.

Alvarado et. al. 2011, Coral Communities of San Juan del Sur, Pacific Nicaragua, Bulletin of Marine Science 87(1): 129-146

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