Rare ‘1-in-30-Million’ orange lobster is discovered in a Massachusetts supermarket but is spared from becoming someone’s dinner after it is donated to a local aquarium
A rare ‘one-in-30-million’ orange lobster has been spared from becoming someone’s dinner after it was rescued from a supermarket in Massachusetts.
The colourful crustacean, which was spotted in a shipment of lobsters by grocery store workers, has been donated to a local aquarium.
The unusual pumpkin hue is triggered by an extremely rare genetic defect which causes the lobster to under-produce a protein, known as carotenoid.
This protein typically gives lobsters a muddy brown colour, which helps them blend in with the murky depths of the ocean.
A rare ‘one-in-30-Million’ orange lobster has been spared the fate of becoming someone’s dinner after it was spotted in a supermarket in Massachusetts. The crustacean was spotted in a shipment of lobsters by grocery store workers but will now be donated to a local aquarium
By some estimates, there is only a one-in-30-million chance that a lobster will be born orange, according to The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.
Orange specimens are around 15 times rarer than blue lobsters, which are born at a rate of around one-in-2-million.
However, the rarest lobsters are albino, which are born completely white and will not turn red when they are cooked.
Just 1-in-100-million lobsters are albino.
Unusual lobster colouration is the result of genetic mutations which change the amount of the protein carotenoid produced by the crustaceans.
‘Blue, in particular, is a genetic defect in that the lobsters are producing more of a certain protein than normal,’ National Aquarium curator Jay Bradley told National Geographic.
By some estimates, there is only a one-in-30-million chance that a lobster will be born orange, according to The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine. They are 15 times rarer than blue lobsters, which are born at a rate of around one-in-2-million
‘Combined with their normal pigmentation, it forms a blue colour.
‘But they turn red when they’re boiled, like the rest.
‘The more orange-y ones [when they’re alive] are an expression of the lack of that protein, so they’re only showing this carotenoid pigment, and it’s bright red, like how they look when they’re boiled.’
The male lobster was found at a supermarket in Westborough, a town just west of Boston, after it was shipped from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
WHY ARE SOME LOBSTERS BORN DIFFERENT COLOURS?
The vast majority of lobsters are born a muddy brown to help them blend in with the murky depths of the ocean.
At one-in-100-million, albino lobsters are the rarest. The crustacean pictured was caught off the coast of Maine in 2017
But every so often a rare genetic defect leads to a more colourful crustacean.
The mutations cause the lobsters to produce too much or too little of a certain protein.
Blue lobsters, which occur at a rate of one-in-2-million, have a defect that triggers the over-production of a certain protein.
Combined with their normal pigmentation, caused by a protein called carotenoid, the protein forms a blue colour.
The one-in-30-million orange lobster gets it colour from a lack of that protein.
They only show the carotenoid pigment, which is bright red, meaning they appear to already be boiled.
At one-in-100-million, albino lobsters are the rarest.
They are born completely white and don’t even turn red when you cook them.
Employees are donating the clawed crustacean to the New England Aquarium, in in Boston, Massachusetts.
The aquarium will either put the orange lobster on display, or donate him to a partner aquarium in Japan.
According to the aquarium, the orange lobster is between seven and nine years old.
It said he is fortunate to have reached that age considering his bright colour, which would have made him an easy target for ocean predators.
‘With that colour, he is flashing a neon sign to many large fish predators, so he deserves much credit to have survived,’ the New England Aquarium said.