Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd have the opportunity to help release 50 baby lobsters into the wild alongside my sister and niece but yesterday, I did just that...and it was flipping wonderful.
Keep reading to find out about our afternoon, and if you fancy visiting the center, scroll to the end to get your tickets with a lovely 20% off using my code RAMBLINGS24.
The National Lobster Hatchery very kindly invited me (and my sister and niece!) to come up and take a look around, and have a behind the scenes tour of their incredible centre. Based in Padstow, The National Lobster Hatchery is a marine conservation, research and education charity that focuses its efforts on the European lobster. It exists to serve the coastal fishing communities of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and I was so pleased to be invited for a VIP tour AND to help them release some babies at Trevone Bay!!
Did you know, female lobsters can carry in the region of 20,000 eggs under their abdomen, however only one of these is expected to survive in the wild?!
With skillful and careful application of modern technology, The Lobster Hatchery can improve this survival rate by about 1000 times! They released over 53,000 juvenile lobsters in 2014 and aim to increase this number over time.
The National Lobster Hatchery can be found on the South quayside next to Padstow’s main car and coach park and at the head of the Camel Trail. We arrived at 1pm and as soon as we walked into the visitor center, we were greeted by friendly faces and a warm welcome. My niece, Darcy, had never seen a lobster before other than a picture I had shown her, but her reaction to seeing a lobster in real life was so wonderful.
At this award-winning visitor centre, get up close with rarely seen lobster babies, pregnant lobster mamas, giant lobsters and other weird and wonderful coastal creatures. Catch a glimpse of what’s happening at the forefront of marine conservation, and learn about how we work with the local fishing community at this unique family friendly attraction.
I was invited behind the scenes to take a look at how they care for the mothers and babies and the process behind nurturing them to juveniles, before they are then released back into the ecosystem. I left my sister and niece playing with the fishing game (Darcy loved this!) and was introduced to the maternity ward and nursery!
Here is where you find the pregnant mothers who, once the babies are born, are taken to these big tubs where they swirl around for about two weeks before separating them into these gridded containers to keep them apart. Can you imagine this happening in the ocean and how easy it would be for these babies to be eaten by predators!
Something I didn't know about lobsters - and before visiting I literally knew nothing - is that lobsters are cannibals and will eat each other, which is why the babies are removed from the mother as soon as they are born, and when they start growing their claws at two-weeks, are then separated from one another!
Once they reach two-weeks old, they are then released into the ocean, and this is where my sister Lucy, Darcy and I got to help!!
We headed the short distance to Trevone Bay and walked towards the rockpools, near the tidal pool I once dipped in after a ramble, and where we would release 50 lobsters into the wild. This truly was such a wholesome and wonderful experience, and especially being able to experience this with my sister and niece.
Using a turkey baster and test tubes, each lobster was sucked up into the pipette and then put gently into the tube filled with water, before being carefully poured into rockools. More specifically rockpools with plenty of seaweed coverage so the little lobsters can go and hide.
We named pretty much every lobster that the three of us released, from Cora (Darcy), Dora (me), and Gary (Lucy!) each lobster was given the send off it deserved.
After we had released the lobsters, we said goodbye to the National Lobster Hatchery team and then spent an hour playing on the sand, jumping across the rockpools, and skimming rocks across the water. A very good day indeed.
Huge thanks to The National Lobster Hatchery for inviting us and for such a lovely few hours. If you would like to check it out, be sure to use my code RAMBLINGS24 for a whopping 20% your visit. All you need to do is book via the website here: Tickets - National Lobster Hatchery