Page last updated at 07:26 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Students to nurture baby lobsters

A lobster
Students are preparing saltwater aquariums for the lobsters

Students at a college are to nurture embryonic lobsters so they can be released back into the wild as part of a new environmental project.

Atlantic College in St Donats, Vale of Glamorgan, is working with the National Lobster Hatchery in Cornwall to nurse up to 15 lobsters from spring onwards.

The six month project will culminate with the young lobsters being released off the Pembrokeshire coast.

The students will study the developing lobsters' feeding and growth.

The embryonic European lobsters will be transferred from the hatchery in Padstow to the college at some point in the next couple of months where they will remain in the safety of a salt water aquarium throughout their vulnerable stage.

The students will be developing different feeds for the lobsters using different combinations of nutrients to try to ascertain which give the best results.

The larger and stronger they grow in the hatchery, the better their chance of survival in the wild
Colin Wells, National Lobster Hatchery

The process is expected to take around six months before they are released onto a reef just off Stack Pole Quay in west Wales.

It is hoped the project will help to stabilise the lobster population in the area as well as educate the students in ecological awareness.

Teacher Paul Dowling said the project would be a part of the students' community service requirement which comprises part of their International Baccalaureate Diploma.

"At first the National Lobster Hatchery will be supplying us with the appropriate food but we are planning to grow our own in the science department," he said.

"We decided to embark on the project after visiting the hatchery last summer."

Colin Wells from the hatchery said the students' work would help them develop improved nutrition for the lobsters.

"The larger and stronger they grow in the hatchery, the better their chance of survival in the wild," he said.

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