Lobster Institute finds new director in researcher Richard Wahle

Published on
September 14, 2018

On 1 September, University of Maine (UMaine) marine sciences research professor Richard Wahle took over for Robert Bayer as the new director of the school’s Lobster Institute. Bayer, who has been at the helm of the institute since 1995, is retiring from his work at UMaine this year, according to a press release from the college. 

In his new role with the Lobster Institute, Wahle plans “to energize and expand the existing connections” between UMaine researchers and the lobster industry in the United States and Canada. To help facilitate this connectivity, Wahle intends to establish a network of affiliated UMaine faculty and student researchers who can broaden the reach of the institute’s message and impact.  

“This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance UMaine’s engagement with all sectors of the lobster fishery and resource management in the U.S. and Canada at a time when challenges to the industry seem to be coming from all corners,” Wahle said of his new role. 

Wahle, who joined UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences in 2009, has lead a storied career thus far researching a variety of lobster species, including North American lobster. In 1989, he founded the American Lobster Settlement Index, which currently monitors the number of juvenile lobsters settling to seafloors at over 80 sampling sites from Rhode Island to Atlantic Canada. The index serves to illuminate the ocean processes responsible for delivering lobster larvae to their coastal nurseries. It also keeps a pulse on recruitment trends relevant to the North American lobster fishery. 

A longtime fixture at UMaine, Wahle has been involved in fisheries research in New England and Atlantic Canada since 1985. Before that, Wahle held two postdoctoral positions at Brown University and the University of Rhode Island, with a short stint in Ireland working with European lobster. He’s also worked with an endemic species of spiny lobsters in Chile while collaborating on the Juan Fernandez Islands, and is currently an adviser to the development of another spiny lobster fishery in the Andaman Islands of India.

Given his extensive experience, Wahle is exceptionally well-suited to take up the mantle at the Lobster Institute, according to Fred Servello, who oversees the institute as dean of the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.  

“Rick is a rising leader in the college with strong credentials in ecology, oceanography and fisheries science, especially when it comes to the American lobster,” Servello said. “The college could not hope for a better person to lead the Lobster Institute’s next chapter and advance its role in research.”

Wahle will continue to conduct research and teach at the University’s Darling Marine Center while simultaneously serving at the director of the Lobster Institute, UMaine confirmed. 

Photo courtesy of UMaine's Darling Marine Center

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