ONE thousand baby lobsters have been released onto an artificial reef in Weymouth Bay.
The cute crustaceans are only a few centimetres long and were released onto their specially created new home by divers this afternoon.
The reef, close to Ringsted Bay, was created by Conservation group Wreck to Reef using 2,000 tonnes of Portland stone last year.
The lobsters were released to ‘re-stock’ the reef.
The project aims to redress the balance in the seas and boost lobster stocks to help the fishing industry.
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It has been made possible through a combination of fishermen, divers, laymen, scientists and the Sea Police (Southern IFCA).
The baby lobsters have been donated by the National Lobster Hatchery and started their journey from the hatchery in Padstow, Cornwall to their new home very early this morning.
The team took the babies out into Weymouth Bay on board the boat 'Cutter'. Divers went down to a depth of about 20 meters. They then opened up the plastic cases the babies had been transported in and wafted their hand gently across the circular disk to create a gentle current.
The babies then swam out and made their new home on the reef.
It will take five to six years for the lobsters to be fully grown and will have outgrown the reef, so to stop them wandering off before they have reached maturity a bigger reef is being built around the existing one using larger stones.
To fund the other reef, people can pay to have their loved ones’ cremated ashes sealed in each individual stone and marked by a granite plaque.
Dominic Boothroyd, manager of the lobster hatchery, said that at this point in their lifecycle the babies would be living in the sea bed.
He said: “We are excited about the release.”
He said they will hopefully be involved in ongoing assessments on the lobster population in the future.
Project co-ordinator of Weymouth and Portland Wreck to Reef, Neville Copperthwaite, said the release was a culmination of years of work by a lot of different people and groups.
He said: “It’s quite a satisfying feeling.”
He added that they were trying to make fishing sustainable and provide stable stocks.
Mr Copperthwaite said he was a passionate believer in practical conservation.
He said: “Right from the start we have refused to become ensnared in the polarised world of conservationists versus people that make a living from the sea. After all, we all want the same thing, clean productive and healthy seas.”
For more information of the project and about the memorial stones visit www.wrecktoreef.co.uk or call 01305 822820.