"We've got the lobsters feeding back on themselves just because they're so abundant," said Richard Wahle, a marine sciences professor at the University of Maine, who is supervising the research. "It's never been observed just out in the open like this," he said.
Maine's lobster catch rose to a record 104 million pounds (45 million kilograms) last year, compared with 23 million pounds in 1981. The 2012 catch is expected to shatter that record as overfishing and other factors have led to the collapse of populations of cod, halibut and other groundfish that feed on lobsters.
Warming waters in the Gulf of Maine due to climate change have also bolstered the population even as the same phenomenon has led to more disease and lower populations in Long Island Sound and southern New England, Wahle said.