Detection of egg removal from the ovigerous lobster followin chlorine bleach exposure

The lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery in the Gulf of Maine is being threatened by the taking of ovigerous lobsters with the subsequent removal of their eggs by dipping their tails in a sea water and bleach solution. Solutions equal to or greater than 20 percent (v/v) commercial bleach will cause the complete removal of the eggs in less than 2 minutes with a 50 percent solution taking only one minute. However, this process causes chemical damage to the plumose setalhairs on the pleopods which can be easily detected with a light microscope. The research reported in this paper investigates this process and provides a method of detecting the removal of the eggs so marine enforcement officers will be able to prosecute the offenders.