One in a million? Try one in two million.
Thursday was New England Aquarium’s lucky day after they received a rare blue lobster.
In the wild, there is only about one blue lobster for every two million of its crustacean companions. Following a 30-day quarantine to make sure the lobster was healthy, Patriot Seafoods of Salem gave it to the aquarium for its Isle of Shoals exhibit.
“When lobstermen are fishing everyday, they see a lot of lobsters,” said Chris Porter, president of Patriot Seafoods. “When one sticks out, and it really sticks out because most are dark; it’s exciting.”
When his cousin, Billy Porter Jr., caught the lobster, he immediately texted Chris.
“He said, ‘We got another lobster for the aquarium,’ ” Chris said.
In past years, Patriot Lobster has caught multiple rare lobsters that it has donated to the aquarium. With a 2-year-old son, Billy wants to bring him to the aquarium to learn about the lobsters for years to come.
The new addition to the aquarium’s family is the only blue lobster on exhibit, but they have three others used for live animal presentations, he said.
“The Isle of Shoals is an exhibit that represents the rocky coast of New Hampshire and some of the animals that can be found there,” senior aquarist Bill Murphy said. “Because of the coast’s rocky habitat, it creates perfect homes for lobsters and other fish that use the rocks as refuge and for food source.”
Rare lobsters aren’t so rare at the aquarium. Fishermen and retail outlets over the years have sent in many colorful crustaceans, including a yellow one and a calico one, both found in about every 30 million lobsters. There’s also the “Halloween” lobster, emblazoned with a half-black, half-orange coloring, that is one in 50 million.
Lobsters served on the dinner table are red, changed from their natural greenish-brown color due to high temperatures causing proteins to denature. However, when certain factors pan out, the lobsters take on a unique shade that can fall various places on the color spectrum.
Similar to how flamingos are pink because of the large quantity of shrimp they eat, a lobster’s pigmentation has at least partly to do with protein intake, scientists believe.
Genetics are also credited with causing unique hues. Lobsters have three layers of color: red, blue, and yellow. Since the human eye can’t distinguish the layers, the crustaceans give off a brownish appearance. But when an individual lobster is born showing its blue layer, for reasons unknown to scientists, it appears blue to the eye.
Matt Berg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.