A lobster species rarely caught by local fishers earlier this month was included for the first time on TaiBNET (Catalogue of Life in Taiwan) maintained by the Biodiversity Research Center at Academia Sinica, thanks to a biologist.
Huang Ming-chih (黃銘志), an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Technology at National University of Tainan, acquired 10 Neptune lobsters (Metanephrops neptunus) from fishers at Cheng Pin port in Keelung, the school said in a statement released on Thursday.
The lobsters were caught in waters close to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) in the South China Sea in July last year, the statement said.
Known locally as red-head lobsters, the lobsters are rarely seen among the catches of local fishers, with fewer than 40 caught each year and they are one of the most expensive items sold at Keelung seafood market, it said.
Of the 10 lobsters Huang acquired, three were ovigerous females and seven mature males, which facilitated more detailed research into the species, it added.
Relatively little is known about the species, and only minimal research has previously been conducted domestically or internationally, Huang told the Central News Agency.
Registering the lobster on TaiBNET represents the first step in seeking to protect the species, he said.
Huang thanked Tadashi Kawai, chief researcher at the Hokkaido Research Organization, part of Japan’s Central Fisheries Research Institution, for his assistance in identifying the rare species, recording its features and providing pictures.
An article based on their joint observations has been published in the latest edition of Crustacean Research.
The 10 Neptune lobsters have since been donated to National Taiwan Museum in Taipei as specimens for academic researchers to use in their work, Huang said.
The Neptune lobster, which has a red head and white abdomen, was first discovered in the South China Sea in 1965.
It is 18cm to 25cm in length and is mainly found at a depth of 300m to 600m in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean west of Australia.
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