A lot of people love lobster. Unfortunately it is pretty hard to produce.

PhD student Audrey Daning Turzan is trying to solve that problem.

I found out that the University of Tasmania offered Aquaculture and they have good facilities. They have very well-recognised research scientists, especially in Aquaculture. That’s why I came here to do my PhD.

Audrey’s research (in the ARC Research Hub for Commercial Development of Rock Lobster Culture Systems, which is hosted by the University’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies) is focused on maximising productivity in spiny lobster aquaculture.

“My research could allow us to find which animals can grow faster, and what physiological factors contributes to the growth.

If lobsters are harvested from the wild, it could lead to overfishing, so we need to find out how we can produce them from aquaculture.

“We want the animal to grow faster so we can harvest them faster.

“The problem with lobster culture is although they come from the same brood stock (same father or mother), they have a different growth rate.

“I found out that those particular animals with a high metabolic rate will grow faster when they eat.

Sometimes the metabolic rate relates to genetics. Some brood stock can produce high metabolic rate animals so from there you can choose particular brook stock to produce a high growth rate animal.

Audrey tests the lobsters’ metabolic rate by placing them in a special chamber to measure their oxygen consumption.

“Then I chase them around a bit so they are tired, then measure the oxygen again. From there we analyse their growth performance, the length of the carapace and the body weight.

“After one or two months I take their measurements again to see how fast they grow. You can see the correlation of the growth rate with the energy consumption. From there you can see if high metabolic animals grow faster or slower.”

Audrey is also investigating the lobsters’ feeding behaviour to see if the lobsters that grab more food grow faster.

I’ll put a mussel in a tank with two juvenile lobsters and they will compete for the food.

When she’s not studying, Audrey loves bushwalking and running.

I told all my friend in Malaysia, ‘you should come to Tasmania.’ It’s one of the best places I’ve ever lived because it’s so beautiful.

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