SCARBOROUGH, Maine – A brightly colored orange lobster found off the coast of Maine is now part of a collection of multicolored crustaceans that call the University of New England home.
Most lobsters are known to be a mottled brown color, but according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean Initiative, pigments can migrate into the shell, where proteins cause color changes.
Experts with the Marine Science Center believe the lobster’s coloration is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors that scientists don’t completely understand.
"Rare lobsters, like this brilliant orange one caught by Turner’s Lobsters, are excellent ambassadors for education because they spark so much curiosity. Sharing these amazing animals with our students and visitors is a special opportunity that wouldn’t be possible without the Maine lobstering community all along the coast," Lindsay Forrette, a lab coordinator and chemical hygiene officer at UNE’s School of Marine and Environmental Programs, said in a statement.
- Image 1 of 3
- Image 2 of 3
- Image 3 of 3
According to crew members, the captain said he has only seen two of the brightly colored creatures during his career.
In addition to the bright orange color, the lobster only has one claw, which is common in the wild.
Forrette said the crustacean likely lost her claw in an altercation with another lobster or fish, but it will mean a unique opportunity for students to learn about limb rejuvenation.
"We plan to document the regrowth of this lobster’s claw in real time, something we’ve only done once before with Banana, our female yellow lobster," Forrette stated.
While the university didn’t state how old they believe the animal to be, restaurant-sized creatures are around 5–7 years old, and if not caught by boaters, lobsters are thought to live up to about 100 years.
The next step for this lobster is getting acquainted to her tank and receiving a name.
In 2019 a blue lobster, who was later nicknamed Blueberry, was donated to the university and in 2021, a yellow lobster named Banana joined the collection.