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Rare calico lobster escapes fate as dinner

Calvin the calico lobster was named by Jasper White after being discovered at his Summer Shack restaurant in Cambridge.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Most lobsters that are sent to Jasper White's Summer Shack restaurant end up on a plate next to a cup of drawn butter. But on Monday, one special lobster was picked up by scientists from the New England Aquarium, destined for a research and educational center in Rhode Island.

A rare calico lobster, known for its marbled color pattern, was found in the 1,200-gallon lobster tank in White's Cambridge restaurant.

There, White said, the pound-and-a-half lobster was destined to be cooked and served to a customer.

"We happened to be cleaning the tank and I happened to be there,'' said White, who has presided over a number of Boston restaurants since the late 1970s. "One of my guys said, 'Chef, look at this lobster,' and from across the room I knew it was special.''


White said the lobster, which he named Calvin, was caught in Winter Harbor, Maine, and had passed through at least four pairs of hands before arriving in his tank. White sent a picture of the lobster to the aquarium, which agreed to hold the lobster for the Biomes Marine Biology Center in Rhode Island.

"Calicos are considered a rare color,'' said aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse. "They used to say 1 in 30 million.'' LaCasse said an unusual number of calico lobsters were found during the summer of 2009, so scientists are reevaluating that notion.

White said Calvin was living comfortably in the restaurant's tank, where he enjoyed feasting on soft-shell crabs. Coming across the calico lobster marked a first in a culinary career that dates to 1973, White said.

"We go through over 300,000 pounds of lobster a year, and I've been doing this for 40 years,'' he said. "I've seen a lot of lobsters, but I had never seen one like this.''

Colin A. Young