Catching just one blue American lobster is at least a one-in-2-million chance. So it’s pretty fortunate one lobsterman has managed to catch two in his career.
Back in 1990, Massachusetts-local Wayne Nickerson caught one of these ultra-rare blue lobsters. On Monday, he beat the odds again by pulling out a 0.9-kilogram (2-pound), sky-blue lobster on his trawler off Cape Cod. After excitedly calling his wife from his boat, she named the lobster Bleu. Fortunately for Bleu, he’s avoiding the boiling pot despite the high price on his head. He is currently being held in a tank and there are plans to donate him to a local aquarium.
“It was more brilliantly blue than the bluest hydrangea you’ve ever seen," Jan Nickerson, Wayne’s wife, told Boston Globe. "It was almost fluorescent. It was almost glowing."
Oceanographers estimate that just one lobster in 2 million is blue due to a genetic defect producing an excessive amount of a particular protein, according to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine. Not only is the genetic abnormality rare, the chances of them surviving in the wild are doubly as slim because they stand out to predators.
There’s also a one in 30 million chance that an American lobster can be yellow. Furthermore, you can get a split-colored lobster where half the body is orange and half is brown. The chances of this are thought to be one in 50 million. Rarest of all is the albino “crystal” lobster, with odds at one in a 100 million.
The red lobsters you see on your fancy dinner plate are actually not the color they were for their whole life. American lobsters are more of a dark-green, blue-brown hue when they’re alive. As the Royal Society of Chemistry explain, it’s all to do with the transformation of the lobster’s astaxanthin protein and crustacyanin pigment under heat. Crustacyanin, a deep blue-ish in the lobster’s exoskeleton, is tightly held by astaxanthin proteins. However, when they’re cooked, the crustacyanin denatures under higher temperatures and releases astaxanthin, which produces that characteristic red-orange color in its unbound form.
Main image credit: Richard Wood/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
[H/T: Atlas Obscura]