Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Rock lobsters: Rainbow of colored crustaceans on the rise

Once considered an exceedingly rare occurrence, reports of live lobsters sporting an array of unusual colors are becoming increasingly common. According to the Associated Press, lobsters that are blue, orange, yellow, white and even two-toned are being caught in fishing nets along the East Coast up to several times a month. As to why there are so many more instances of the genetically mutated lobsters, experts say it’s anybody’s guess.

“Are we seeing more because the Twitter sphere is active and people get excited about colorful lobsters?” said Michael Tlusty, research director at the New England Aquarium in Boston to AP. “Is it because we're actually seeing an upswing in them? Is it just that we're catching more lobsters so we have the opportunity to see more? Right now you can make a lot of explanations, but the actual data to find them out just isn't there.”

One explanation is a simple numbers game. In Maine alone, the annual lobster catch has multiplied four times over the last 20 years, adding up to almost 105 million pounds in 2011. With so many more lobsters, the odds of finding a blue or yellow one increases.

Still, the odds are stacked against across one of these rock lobsters. According to what fuzzy math does exist on the subject, blue lobsters are one in two million, with the orange variety closer to one in ten million.

For fans of the culinary aspects of lobster, Bob Bayer of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute says to rest easy: Regardless of the color, they all taste the same. Most will turn the same traditional red hue when cooked, except for the white ones due to lack of pigment.

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