A fisherman from the Canadian Maritimes recently pulled in quite the catch with not one but two rare blue lobsters.
The 30-year old lobsterman, Scott McKinnon, caught the rare creators in quick succession at the tail end of the 2016 fishing season. He brought in the two specimens just 93 miles apart off the coast of Eastern Canada, in the province of Nova Scotia.
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How Are Lobsters Blue?
Lobsters aren’t usually blue. The crustaceans tend to have a murky, greeny-brown color until they are boiled and cooked, when they turn the familiar orangey-pink hue.
The reason for the vibrant blue hue of these rare specimens is believed to be a genetic defect. The defect causes a lobster’s system to produce too much protein. When the protein interacts with astaxanthin, an antioxidant found in the food lobsters consume, their shell develops a blue pigmentation.
With the eye-catching coloring, blue lobsters tend to get gobbled up by predators. Their intense color is basically a bull’s eye on their backs, as typically colored lobsters have the benefit of camouflage.
What Were the Odds?
The odds of catching one blue lobster (let alone two) aren’t high. There’s about one blue lobster for every two million regularly colored ones. It's not unheard of for a fisherman to catch one. But to catch two in the same weekend is insane.
However, blue lobsters aren’t the rarest of the shellfish: It’s even harder to find a pure red lobster. Sure, when you cook up your average lobster it turns a reddish hue, but finding a living lobster with a red shell is much harder. Only one in every ten million lobsters is crimson.
A yellow-shelled lobster is even rarer, as there’s an estimated one for every 30 million lobster. That’s the same number as the Calico lobster, which has a yellow or orange spotted shell.
The Split lobster, sporting a half orange, half brown shell is about one in every 50 million organisms. However, the rarest lobster of them all is the albino lobster, also called the Crystal lobster. There’s only about one white lobster for every 100 million lobsters.
What Happens Now?
Of the two lobsters McKinnon caught, one of them was too small to remove from its natural habitat. It was returned to the ocean waters. The other blue lobster is alive and currently on display at the Ballast Grounds Fisheries in the town of North Sydney in the Cape Breton region of Nova Scotia.
When people sell these blue lobsters, they go for around $3,100 per pound. That’s a lot more expensive than traditional lobster, which can go for around $13 per pound. However, this one is not for sale. McKinnon’s wife named the larger blue lobster Opal. The McKinnon family plans to release Opal back into the Atlantic Ocean on the final day of the lobster-fishing season, a season which experts say might be the best in years for the Canadian province.
Maybe luck has something to do with this catch. The rarity of a blue lobster makes it a sign of good fortune, traditionally.
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If you’d like to be lucky like the McKinnon family and see a blue lobster, check out an aquarium near you. Many of these facilities care for blue lobsters in the U.S.