Blue means free pass to museum for crustacean

Sueann Musick
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LITTLE HARBOUR – It smells like a lobster and it feels like a lobster, but saying it looks like one might require a second take.

George Koszkulics of Little Harbour didn’t know on Tuesday morning when he hauled up a trap just off Big Island with six lobsters in it that he would be defying odds by capturing a four-pound blue one.

“I have seen them before but I never caught one before,” he said.

According to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, only one in two million lobsters are blue which makes them pretty rare.

It says the colouration comes from a genetic defect that causes the lobster to produce an excessive amount of a particular protein that gives the lobster its unique colour.

Russell Wyeth, a biology professor at St. Francis Xavier University, said a lobster having a different coloured shell is similar to people having different shades of hair colour.

Wyeth said he has seen two blue lobsters, both of which are on display in the aquatics facility at St. FX, during his seven years at the university.

The larger supply of lobsters and the lesser number of predators in the ocean might account for a few more sightings of blue lobsters, but he doesn’t expect them to become a common crustacean anytime soon.

“The mutated lobsters might stand out more to predators,” he said, adding this could account for them being rare. “Lobsters can camouflage themselves, but the blue lobsters might stand out more.”

However, he said, predators usually rely on smell when searching the dark ocean bottom for food so the colour of the shell probably wouldn’t play a big role.

Koszkulics said this blue lobster will not be on anyone’s dinner plate anytime soon. It will be put on display at Sobeys in West Side New Glasgow for the weekend and then head to the Northumberland Fisheries Museum for a more permanent stay. 

Organizations: Lobster Institute, University of Maine, St. Francis Xavier University Sobeys Northumberland Fisheries Museum

Geographic location: Little Harbour, Big Island, West Side New Glasgow

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