Summer student at the Pictou Lobster Hatchery Sarah MacCallum holds a rare orange lobster. The odds of catching one are one in 30 million. It’s on display at the Northumberland Fisheries Museum and Pictou Lobster Hatchery all summer. AMY MACKENZIE – THE NEWS
PICTOU – Employees at Pictou Lobster Hatchery aren’t sure where a blue, baby lobster came from, but they’re taking good care of it at its new home.
The approximately seven-month-old lobster was recently dropped off anonymously at the hatchery and the employees there are excited to have another rare-coloured lobster in their care.
The odds of catching a blue lobster are one in two million, Sarah MacCallum, the hatchery’s summer student said. It’s an unusual crustacean that’s been popping up more often at the local hatchery, with two adult lobsters in its care in addition to the new baby.
The two adult blue lobsters came from the fishermen who caught them in the Northumberland Strait.
Also found in the tanks lined up at the local hatchery is an orange lobster, even more rare than the blue.
“The odds of catching an orange lobster are one in 30 million,” MacCallum said. “This one came from Toney River.”
MacCallum said the reason for blue and orange appearing in the shells of rare lobsters is because of a rearranging of chemicals in their proteins.
“Every lobster has two different types of protein in their shells. One’s red and one’s blue,” she said. “So in their genome, if their proteins are rearranged by chemicals, the blue can be hidden, which gives you the orange lobster or the red can be hidden, which gives you the blue lobsters.”
But no matter what colour a lobster is when picked from the ocean floor, it will be red when it comes out of a pot of boiling water.
“The blue pigments will break down in the heat, the chemicals on them will break down, which allows for only the red to show, so that why all lobsters turn red when they are cooked,” MacCallum said.
But the three blue and one orange lobster at the hatchery don’t need to worry about being boiled. The Pictou Lobster Hatchery and Northumberland Fisheries Museum plan to keep the unusual lobsters in their care and on display for the public to view. The lobsters may move briefly to the portion of the museum located in the CN Station just down the road from the hatchery, but will eventually return to their former tanks.
“They should be on display all summer. They’ll be somewhere on the museum’s premises,” MacCallum said.
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