Story at a glance
- While lobsters are often brown or green when caught and turn red when cooked, a rare genetic mutation will make some blue or yellow.
- A fisherman in southwestern England caught a blue lobster and released it back into the wild.
- The photo was shared by the U.K.’s National Lobster Hatchery, which works to preserve and maintain the country’s lobster population.
Fisherman Tom Lambourn became the lucky one in perhaps millions of people who will ever see a blue lobster when he pulled one out of the sea off the Cornish Coast earlier this month.
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The photos were shared by the National Lobster Hatchery, a U.K.-based marine conservation, research and education charity, which allows you to adopt your own baby lobster and track where it is released off the coast of Cornwall. Warming waters and rising sea levels are threatening lobster populations in some parts of the world, including the United States, where their numbers have been dwindling in the New England region.
The crustacean was too small to bring into land, the National Lobster Hatchery said, so it was released back into the sea. The bright blue lobster is pretty rare, making headlines when fishermen happen to catch sight of the genetic mutation, estimated to be 1 in 2 million, according to the British Broadcasting Channel, and others, such as yellow lobsters, are estimated to be 1 in 30 million.
"The American lobster is usually a sort of greeny-brown, so anything bright blue would look very odd to fishermen there," says Charlie Ellis, a researcher at the National Lobster Hatchery, told BBC in 2016. "But European lobsters tend to be a duller blue colour. The real sort of iridescent blue is still rare here, but the difference is that, to a European fisherman, it will seem less completely out of the ordinary than it would seem to a North American."
Lambourn's catch was especially "vibrant," the hatchery noted, and in the comments, others shared their own blue lobster sightings, including spotted blue lobsters, and mused about whether such lobsters would retain their color after casting their shell.
"It depends - some of them do it due to the colour morph genetically (Which is when they stay the same!) but most the time they are able to vary their colour and patterns due to their habitat (We think!)," the hatchery responded.
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