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Are Blue Lobsters As Rare As Blue Moons?


How rare is it to find a blue lobster? For one lobsterman, his lucky day came on Monday, Aug. 8, when he pulled one out from a trap laid in the waters off Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The blue color, which is a liability in the ocean (since it doesn't allow the lobster to blend in with its surroundings) is a benefit on land, as the lobsterman, Wayne Nickerson, hopes to donate it to the New England Aquarium in Boston. That will save it from ending up on someone's dinner plate.

The blue hue, according to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine comes from a genetic defect that causes the lobster to make excessive amounts of the protein that creates the color. There's approximately a one in 2 million chance of finding a blue lobster. But, surprisingly, these are not the rarest color of lobster.

The Lobster Institute estimates there's a one in 10 million chance of coming across a red lobster — one that's red before being cooked, that is, and a one in 30 million chance of seeing a yellow lobster or a calico lobster. (A calico lobster is one that's orange but mottled with black shells.) And the rarest lobster of all? An albino or crystal lobster — that's one with no color at all. Odds of finding this one are one in 100 million.

All of this makes the blue lobster seem pretty common by comparison. Indeed, Nickerson said he found another blue one in 1990.

Some experts dispute the one-in-2-million odds for blue lobsters. A researcher at England's National Hatchery thinks it could be as low as one in a few hundred thousand. But a zoology expert at Oxford University supports the one-in-2-million odds. Even Rob Bayer, executive director at the Lobster Institute which quotes the higher figure, admitted that it's just a guess. "The chances of this happening nobody really knows," he told the BBC.



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