Lobsters. It’s easy to think of these large marine crustaceans as just expensive dinners. But lobsters have taught us humans so much about the ways of sea creatures and they are highly prized as both economically and socially important animals at Cornwall’s unique National Lobster Hatchery, which is partly open to the public.
The National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow is actually more than just a tourist attraction. It’s a marine conservation, research and education charity that is totally devoted to the European lobster. But at the hatchery’s visitor centre, you can learn about the fishing pressures on the crustacean’s habitats and how vulnerable these creatures, which are the most valuable types of shellfish caught in the UK, are to stock collapses.
The centre gives visitors the chance to meet baby lobsters, as well as others that are in different stages of their life. There’s more marine life on show at the centre for people to see too. It’s only a small place, so don’t expect to spend more than an hour here but there’s so much to learn and there are lobster experts on hand throughout to paint a picture for visitors and answer any questions. There’s also a shop and a conference facility here, as well as an array of laboratories and culture spaces, although the centre is solely for the public, who also get a chance to adopt a lobster at the end.
The hatchery is committed to protecting and increasing lobster stocks in regional waters. The team behind the venue, which opened in August 2000, has raised and released more than a quarter of a million juvenile lobsters back into the wild. But the hatchery team also conducts valuable research in marine biology and its mission is to educate both the industry and general public on the plight of lobsters and the threats to their environment and populations. It’s worth being educated on this plight at the hatchery before you get up close and personal with the cutest baby crustaceans in Cornwall.