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'Cotton Candy' Lobster Found Near Maine Is 1 in 100 Million

A very rare lobster caught off the coast of Maine last year has become a social media sensation. It is so rare that it was spared being boiled alive for someone's dinner, and instead is living a cushy life in an aquarium. The lobster owes its stay of execution to its exotic coloring.

The lobster, dubbed 'Lucky' by the fishermen who caught him, is a sight to behold. The colorful crustacean is mottled shades of blue and pink, very much like the colors of cotton candy you would find at a fair. He sticks out like a sore thumb among his lobster brethren.

Robinson Russel, the Canadian who snared Lucky in November, posted a photo of the lobster on Instagram. The photo got several thousand views, and Russell says he debated about what to do with the catch.

“I really didn’t know what to do with it at first, so I decided to give it to the aquarium,” he said.

For a while, Lucky was living at Grand Manan seafood restaurant. He was given his own tank and was there for display rather than dinner before being moved permanently to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews.

Most lobsters are a mottled brownish-greenish color when alive, but will turn a bright red or orange when cooked. When they feast on plants with red pigment, the chemicals accumulate in their shells. Heat causes a chemical reaction that results in the lobster shell turning red.

Though rare, it's not unusual for lobsters to come in different hues. They've been found with unusual colored shells ranging from bright blue to lemon yellow. Some are mottled, looking like a calico cat, and occasionally a split-toned lobster is turned up.

Lobsters like these are rare, with only a handful of per one or two million turning up. Usually, the discolorations are due to genetic mutations, though they can also be attributed to things like nutrient deficiencies, or a build-up of certain chemicals from their diet or the waters in which they dwell.

Lucky the lobster is believed to be a rare albino lobster, which makes him rare among the rare. Dr. Andrew Jeffs from the University of Auckland’s Institute of Marine Science says that his coloring probably came from a genetic mutation. “You get an unusual combination of genes that has an unusual color morph,” he explained to Time.

When you are a lobster living in the wild, it is certainly not an advantage to be a brightly colored lobster. They don't blend in well with the undersea surroundings and are more at risk for being caught by predators. Most of these lobsters will live a fairly short life.

On the other hand, this cotton candy-colored lobster's coloring is what saved his life because humans have a thing for pretty colors and unique looking specimens. If he was left under the sea, Lucky would have probably been some fish’s dinner by now. But because he was caught in a net by humans, he’s safe because he's too unique looking to cook.

Weighing in at 2 lbs., Lucky could have made a tasty meal for someone. His unusual coloring is natural, but it's only shell-deep. He would taste like any other lobster-- but lucky for Lucky, that won't be happening to him.

Source: Time
Photos: WCYY, Michel_Rathwell/Flickr, Erwan Hesry/Flickr, HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Green Fire Productions

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