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Caribbean seagrass is awash with infected lobsters – but the habitat could be saving the species


The Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus is under threat from a deadly virus. Panulirus argus 1 (PaV1) is found throughout the Caribbean, infecting up to 30% of lobsters in some areas.

Alongside overfishing, it is the biggest danger spiny lobsters are facing today. This is important because the species plays a vital role as both predator and prey in Caribbean seagrass and reef ecosystems. The annual catch of about 40,000 tonnes supports local fisheries and provides a food source for people across the world.

The virus replaces blood cells, eventually turning infected lobsters’ blood (referred to as haemolymph) milky white, leaving the disease visible to the human eye through their translucent abdomens. Once this happens, it’s usually not long before the lobster dies. MORE

Header image: A healthy lobster next to a diseased lobster, whose milky blood is visible through its translucent abdomen. Credit: Charlotte Davies.

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