Cotton candy lobsters, a blue and pink lobster, have clawed its way into crustacean history.
The magnificent monster, which was caught in Maine’s Casco Bay on Friday, is so rare that it only appears roughly every four to five years, according to National Geographic. According to home delivery provider Get Maine Lobster, just one in every 100 million lobsters has the pastel coloration.
Professional lobsterman Bill Coppersmith told Boston.com that he observed a “weird tint in the trap.”
“I had no idea if it was a toy lobster or what it was,” he explained.
Haddie, named for Coppersmith’s granddaughter, will forego the drawn butter dip. The approximately seven-year-old female mollusk will reside at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire, following an adoption search performed by Get Maine Lobster. Her striking coloration may render her more exposed to predators.
“We did receive an offer to purchase it, but I declined,” Mark Murrell, the seafood company’s founder, told HuffPost in an email on Wednesday.
Murrell was well aware that Haddie needed to be preserved.
“I’ve never seen one in person, and Billy (the lobsterman who caught her) has never caught anything of that colour (cotton candy),” Murrell wrote.
“When she is rotated in the light, she resembles a gem,” Murrell told Boston.com. “It’s as though you’re staring at a magnificent gem. Her shell is pearlescent, much like the inside of an oyster.”
According to National Geographic, cotton candy lobsters get their colour from a pigment called astaxanthin coupled with specific proteins.
“This is the first time we’ve encountered cotton candy,” Murrell told Fox News. “To come across one like this is a great blessing. It exemplifies Mother Nature’s great artistic ability.”
While the majority of lobsters taken off the Atlantic coast of North America are brownish-green in colour, the colour in their shells varies due to a natural substance called astaxanthin and its interaction with various proteins. It’s analogous to how humans’ melanin produces a range of skin tones.
As a result of this astaxanthin, lobsters can exhibit unique colours, such as vivid blue or yellow. There are even two-toned lobsters, in which the right half of the body is red and the left side is black. According to the Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance, approximately one in every two million lobsters is blue. Only one in every thirty million people is yellow.
This ‘cotton candy lobster’ is available for adoption at a one-in-100 million chance.
However, albino (white) or cotton candy lobsters are the most elusive of all: the chances of catching one are one in a hundred million.
They’re so uncommon that it’s impossible to value them — all the more so when, as in this case, they’re frequently donated to aquariums rather than sold.
“There is absolutely no intention of selling or cooking Haddie!” According to Murrell. “Instead, Get Maine Lobster is contacting local groups, and any aquariums interested in adopting her can contact us to arrange for her to live out the remainder of her life in safety and comfort.”
The Seacoast Science Center in New Hampshire recently showcased a split-colored half-blue, half-orange lobster that was also caught off the Maine coast. And in February, the Marine Science Center at the University of New England received a yellow lobster donated by a local lobsterman, which they appropriately dubbed “Banana.”
While the cotton candy lobster is impossible to quantify, the desirable crustaceans as a whole have been clawing higher than typical prices this year.
Lobster is selling for upwards of $15 a pound, roughly a third more than a year ago and more than twice the price in some recent summers and early fall seasons. This is partly due to increased demand, lingering supply chain concerns, and rising costs of fuel, boats, and traps.