Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Shell disease is caused by bacteria that invade from the outside of the lobster through pores in its cuticle-or the outermost layer of the shell-that cannot be seen by the naked eye. There is a range in the severity of the disease from shallow pits that eat away at the cuticle and cause those unsightly black spots to ulcerations-holes that fully penetrate the shell, causing the shell and the membranes underneath it to fuse together. This can stop the lobster from releasing its shell and can cause it to become stuck during the molting process and die ( (Marine Disease Pathology & Research Consortium ( ~MDPC/gallery.htm))

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