Sustaining a thriving lobster fishery through science and community.
By A.J. O'CONNELL
It only happens once in a blue moon. A couple of days ago a local lobsterman captured a rare blue lobster. Now the azure crustacean, named Bluebell by the company's employees, is sitting in the hatchery at Hillard Bloom Shellfish, Inc. (formerly Tallmadge Brothers.)
Personnel at the company say that Bluebell is not the first blue lobster they have seen, but that lobsters of a different color (called colormorphs) are definitely not the norm. This is my second one, said Leslie Miklovich, vice president of the company.
The odds of finding a blue lobster are about one in a million, said Sara Ellis, executive director of the Lobster Conservancy in Maine. The majority of lobsters are a mottled greenish brown. Genetic makeup determines the color, said Ellis. Diet and sunlight also affect a crustaceans hue.
According to a piece written by Ellis' colleague at the conservancy, Dr. Diane Cowan, lobsters that differ from the common greenish brown color are rare, but over the years, many different colors have been found in lobstermens traps. Exotic lobsters in shades of blue, white, yellow, black, and red have been reported from time to time since the earliest lobster harvests, read Cowans article.
Perhaps the most unusual colormorphs are the calico lobsters appearing as marbled black and orange/yellow or half-and-half lobsters with a line straight down their backs where two colors meet. Ironically, even the rarest shade of lobsters will turn red when cooked.
According to Miklovich, Hillard Bloom will probably donate Bluebell to the Maritime Aquarium. It will not be the first odd shellfish that the aquarium has received. "People give us funny lobsters", said Tim Gagne, publicist for the aquarium. "Its great."
This summer, the aquarium received a calico lobster from a lobsterman upstate. A second calico lobster, which was donated to the center a couple of years ago, is currently residing in a tank separate from the aquariums other stock. It was moved to its current home after its tankmates attacked it, tearing off two legs in the process. According to Gagne, the legs appear to have grown back.
When asked what would happen to Bluebell when she comes to the aquarium, Gagne said he had not yet received official word that the lobster was on the way. However, he added, he is glad that local fishermen are so eager to send unusual catches to the aquarium. "Its neat from an educational standpoint.", he said.