BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — A blue lobster became the star of the show Tuesday at Maine State Aquarium, his new home since a teen and her dad found the rare crustacean Saturday as they checked their lobster traps.
After capturing what oceanographers estimate is a 1-in-2-million find off Pine Point about 10 miles southwest of Portland, Maine, Meghan LaPlante, 14, of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, named the lobster Skylar and vowed that he would not end up on a dinner plate — even though Miss Meghan's Lobster Catch is the family's livelihood. She has her own student lobster license.
"When we pulled it up, we saw the blue, and we were so amazed at the color," she said. "And my dad said, 'Put it in the tank right away.' "
On Tuesday, Meghan, who is starting her freshman year of high school; her dad, Jay; and the rest of the family drove 75 miles to the state aquarium with Skylar in tow. He had a crowd of tourists waiting for his arrival.
"Lobsters are actually really, really fascinating," said aquarium intern Elise Hartill of Orono, Maine. "There's a whole world of things that we don't know about them, and I think that seeing different colors gets people really interested in, 'Wow I didn't realize lobsters are so cool,' and then you get to teach.
"It's a stopping point to educate people about the other cool things that lobsters do," she said.
Skylar's cerulean color comes from a genetic defect, according to Lobster Institute at the University of Maine in Orono. He produces an excessive amount of a particular protein that makes him a standout, and his hue is not the only unusual lobster color.
Most red lobsters change color only after cooking, but 1 in 10 million are red when they are alive. The odds of finding a calico lobster with a mottled orange and black shell or a solid yellow lobster? 1 in 30 million, according to the institute.
One 1-in-50-million find is half orange and half brown and is both male and female. Lobster institute researchers have seen only three in 35 years.
But the rarest lobster of all is an albino or crystal lobster, whose shell has no color at all. The institute estimates the odds of finding a crystal lobster at 1 in 100 million. The lobster population in Maine alone has been estimated at 100 million to 130 million. Depending on size, a female lobster can carry 6,000 to 100,000 eggs, but only two generally survive to harvestable size.
The Maine State Aquarium has a display with one orange and three other blue lobsters, aquarium officials say. But Skylar, after an initial period of acclimation and observation in a staff-only area of the aquarium, will get his own tank.