When fisher Keith Doucette checked his catches on May 27, he saw something he never would have expected: a multi-coloured lobster.
This particular lobster is unique because it’s what is known as a half and half. While the right side of it is the usual mottled green/brown, the left half is almost completely blue.
“I’ve seen different kinds, different ones that look half cooked on one side, but I’ve never seen a half blue, and half regular colour,” said Mr Doucette. “I’ve fished 35 years, and that’s the first one I’ve seen half blue and half regular colour. I’ve caught three or four all blue, but not half blue, in such a straight line.”
Robert MacMillan, a lobster biologist with the Marine Fisheries & Seafood Services at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said almost every season he receives reports of rare coloured lobsters like this one.
Though he’s not sure what the exact odds are, he suspects occurrences of lobsters like this are about one in millions
“When we consider that in PEI we harvest between 30 and 40 million lobsters annually, it is understandable that we encounter some of these different coloured individuals,” he said.
Francis Morrissey, president of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association and manager of Royal Star Foods, said fishers usually pick up between six and ten of these different coloured lobsters each season.
“We have some orange and black ones that look like a leopard, and different stuff like that,” he said. “Once we’re done fishing, a guy takes them out and lets them go.”
Mr MacMillan said shell colour in lobsters are determined mostly by genetics, and in some cases by diet and habitat as well. Colour can be determined by pigments that bind to the proteins in the shell, and can include blue, orange, calico, yellow, and, in very rare situations, white.
If caught and cooked, the lobsters will lose their unusual colouring because of the destruction of the pigment to protein bond and will turn the bright red colour typically associated with the crustacean.
Mr Doucette said he’s never caught a white lobster and doesn’t know many who have, but he would like to catch one someday, just to be able to say he caught one.