Last week, an unusual two-toned lobster was captured off Newport, RI. This lobster is so rare that a person only has between a 1 in 50 million to 100 million chance of capturing one. By comparison, the odds of finding a blue lobster are about 1 in four million. However, despite these incredibly long odds, one just like it was captured in Maine in 2006 — an indication of the number of lobsters that are taken every year?
Basically, the color of a lobster’s shell is a mix of yellow, red, and blue, a combination that results in the usual brownish-green color of most lobsters. The lack of blue and yellow resulted in the unusual surprise — a bright red half, resembling an already cooked lobster. This two-toned lobster has half its body of normal, mottled brown color while the other half is a bright red — a result of a genetic mutation. The two sides of this lobster developed independently with the red side having a lack of the blue pigment crustacyanin. The mutuation causes a unique appearance.
“Selection for pimentation starts at the first cell division of the embryo. Genes from one pigment went to one cell while the others went to the other. All subsequent divisions carry the same information,” said Ed Baker of the Office of Marine Programs at the University of Rhode Island.
Normally, Lobsterman Jim Mataronas IV, who captured the rare lobster, keeps unusual lobsters on display to delight his walk-in customers. However, this is a special circumstance.
“We’ll give it to a good home.” He mentioned the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut and Boston’s New England Aquarium.
Hey, an image of yet another two-toned lobster! Clearly, they aren’t as vanishingly rare as one might suspect.
Featured image: 2006 two-toned lobster captured in Maine.