This Article is About
maine lobster
food dye
humpback whales
nutritional value
The Rare Blue Lobster
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The Rare Blue Lobster

There have been several news items recently about Blue Lobsters being discovered. The incidence of sightings is much higher than ever before and more are being taken in the Maine Lobster harvest this year. Why is this happening and what could the possible reasons be for the discovery of so many odd colored Lobsters? I’d like to offer an opinion as to these possible causes. I’m not a Crustacean Biologist although I do have a degree in Oceanography. While my concentration was more toward Ocean Engineering, I have researched and written several papers on the Arthropod, Limulus Polyphemus, better known as the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab.

What is it that makes a Blue Lobster? The Blue coloration is typically believed to be a genetic mutation. A protein combines with Astaxanthin to produce a Crustacyanin. This substance provides the Blue coloration. Interestingly, Astaxanthin is a antioxidant and provides nutritional value as well. While it does make Lobsters Blue, it is used commercially as a food dye and is red. It also provides the red pigment in Krill. Perhaps the Humpback whales that dine on this delicacy know that it is really good nutritionally. Or maybe they just like the way they taste.

In the recent past, the Lobster harvest has been at record levels. The Maine Lobster harvest broke the all time high in 2009 with 81.2 million pounds of Lobster harvested. Again in 2010 the record was broken with 93.4 million pounds harvested. Finally, last year, the record was broken yet again with 100 million pounds of Lobster harvested in Maine alone. Does this perhaps impact the amount of Blue Lobsters that have been found?

Historically rare, Blue Lobsters are thought to occur one time in 1-2 million individuals caught. This means that statistically there should have been 50 Blue Lobsters found in 2011 alone. Reported sightings have typically been 1-2 per year which means the incidence of Blue Lobster sightings is actually considerably less than the reported statistical norm. Yes, 4 have been found this year but the harvest started earlier than normal as the mild winter has provided warmer waters off the Maine coast and started the Lobster breeding season earlier than normal. It is possible that this has impacted the amount of Blue Lobsters that have been identified.

One more factor that may be impacting the quantity of Blue Lobsters found has it’s origins with human intervention. In 1990 a scientific experiment was done to determine the spread of a population of Lobsters. This was done by seeding a large quantity of Blue Lobster fry into the Ocean off the Maine coast. It is reasonable to assume that a significant contribution of genetically altered individuals have reached breeding age and are passing on the propensity to be Blue.

A factor that may be overlooked is that the general population of Lobsters is increasing. The management of the Maine population has been quite successful. Combined with the decrease in the Cod fishery, more Lobsters are surviving to maturity as Lobster is a favorite food for Cod. There is less predation on the Lobster population allowing the less camouflaged colors to survive.

All of these factors are combining to create an environment beneficial to the production of Blue Lobsters. In the future it may be normal to see several Blue Lobsters each year. When this happens we will need to turn our sights to the next most rare of Lobster colors, the Yellow Lobster. Perhaps we will be surprised only by the most rare of all the Albino white Lobster or even remain passive unless surprised by the almost legendary Calico Lobster.


Street Talk

Nice article and nice looking lobsters. I wonder if I eat Astaxanthin, I might turn blue.

Reply
  about 9 months ago

Great article labman.

Reply
  about 1 year ago
Pat Cook  

I enjoyed learning about Rare Blue Lobsters....and I thoroughly enjoyed your training on how to write. This is a good example of how to teach writing! Keep making those training lessons. Pat

Reply
  about 4 years ago
divine1  

Hi Craig, just came from WA and have read your post on how to write an article. Am still in the process of learning how to put ideas together in such a way that there will be coherence in my article. After reading your article, it looks so easy for you to come up with it. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Reply
  about 4 years ago

I liked the article...very well written and I also loved the picture. WOW! They really ARE blue!

Reply
  about 4 years ago

Interesting, thanks for the education on lobsters. Great article.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Thanks! Interesting background about lobsters. I remember trips to Maine, buying lobsters off the boats for an annual home-cooked lobster feast. Enjoyed learning about them. And happy there's lots more;)

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Interesting, a blue lobster, cool!

Reply
  about 5 years ago
AnnMarie  

This is so cool...a blue lobster..hmmmm...noticed the root word 'cyan' a type of blue. I saw a lobster once that apparently spawns near Japan and the creature's shell had spikes sticking out all over it. It was red/orange. I wonder how many different types of lobsters there are and how different they all look. I also wonder why the market price for Maine lobsters is astronomical since there is such a proliferation of them. Too expensive in the restaurants around here. :(

Reply
  about 5 years ago

It is nice to see species make a come back into the wild, I was amazed at the finding of a blue pickerl some time ago, in which they were though to be extinct....do bad the cod pay the price....one lives one dies the circle of life perhaps....nice Craig....

Reply
  about 5 years ago
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