Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2018


Epizootic Shell Disease in Homarus americanus

American lobster populations along the northeastern U.S. coast have been experiencing increased prevalence of Epizootic Shell Disease (ESD) over the past two decades. Several reports have correlated this increase with warmer water temperatures. My thesis examined the distribution of diseased lobsters surrounding Millstone Nuclear Power Station (MPS) in Long Island Sound. Lobsters in this area have seen a rise in Epizootic Shell Disease (ESD) that parallels the broader trends. To determine if the thermal plume from MPS had a local effect on ESD prevalence, the spatial distribution of diseased lobsters was analyzed at three stations Twotree, Jordan Cove, and Intake, using data from 1984-2016. No statistically significant relationship was found between average bottom water temperature and shell disease prevalence per station. Twotree, the most offshore station with the coolest bottom water temperatures had the highest prevalence of shell disease. In contrast, prevalence at this station was due to a higher frequency of diseased females in the population. It has been hypothesized that lobsters with ESD have compromised immune systems. The immune system of lobsters relies primarily on the phagocytic activity of hemocytes within their hemolymph. I examined hemocyte abundance in 18 lobsters sampled in 2017 and found that lobsters with intermediate stages of shell disease had the highest hemocyte counts.

The Nuclear Industry’s Concepts on Sustainability

How do we understand the role of nuclear power generation in a sustainable future? Is this low-greenhouse gas producing energy source part of that future? In my second study, I addressed these questions by conducting qualitative, semi-structured interviews with employees of MPS, a nuclear power plant owned by Dominion Energy. The purpose of this study was to understand the attitudes of people working within a nuclear power plant towards sustainability and nuclear power. The results indicated that employees have a more economic view of sustainability and that nuclear energy is viewed as transitional fuel source. These responses were congruent with concepts found in the literature and should be taken into account from when creating policies regarding renewable energy.