The emergence of epizootic shell disease in the American lobster (Homarus americanus) has been devastating to the industry in the coastal waters of southern New England. A comprehensive assessment of the disease syndrome, known as the “100 Lobsters” Project, was initiated to examine health and physiological parameters among laboratories involved in the research on lobster shell disease. A histological study of the 100 lobsters was undertaken as part of that assessment. Tissues from 90 lobsters from Rhode Island and 19 lobsters from Maine were examined as a general health assessment of the 100 lobsters. Approximately half the lobsters from Rhode Island were selected because they had frank epizootic shell disease, whereas none of the lobsters from Maine exhibited the syndrome. In addition to epizootic shell disease, the histological findings revealed 3 other idiopathic syndromes—necrotizing hepatopancreatitis, idiopathic blindness, and nonspecific granulomas—in higher prevalences in lobsters from Rhode Island compared with those from Maine. Necrotizing hepatopancreatitis, a newly described disease syndrome in lobsters, was observed in 15% of the lobsters from Rhode Island. Idiopathic blindness was present in 54% of the lobsters from Rhode Island, and 16% of the animals from Maine. This is the first report of the syndrome in lobsters from Maine. None of the idiopathic syndromes was associated with epizootic shell disease. The detection of multiple disease syndromes such as epizootic shell disease, necrotizing hepatopancreatitis, and idiopathic blindness may be indicative of exposure to environmental stressors in Narragansett Bay, RI.
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