The Lavender Lobster of Casco Bay

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 by Julia

Let’s start the school year off by learning a little bit about one of Maine’s favorite marine creatures. If you live in Maine you probably know at least a little bit about lobsters, but did you know that live lobsters are not actually red like we see in cartoons? They are actually a brownish color. One really cool fact about lobsters is that they can also have shells that are yellow, blue, white, or calico. These lobsters are very rare in the wild, but when lobstermen and lobsterwomen pull up these fashionable little buggers, they will sometimes give them to us to keep in our tank.

Last week a lobstermen off of Chebeague Island in Casco Bay pulled up a lavender lobster in one of his traps. He couldn’t keep the lobster for us because she had a v-notch in her tail.  Lobstermen and lobsterwomen mark females that can carry eggs with a v-notch, so other lobstermen and women know to throw them back. This is one way lobstermen and women in Maine manage the fishery to keep from overfishing lobster. While it was really hard to throw back such an unusual and beautiful lobster, this lobsterman did the right thing by throwing her back. While we couldn’t keep the live lobster he did send us lots of really great pictures!

So you’re probably wondering how a lobster could be lavender… Just like us humans have different color pigments in our skin, lobsters have different color pigments in their shells.  Usually the red, blue, and yellow pigments in a lobster's shell combine to create a brown color. Sometimes though the pigments in their shell will come in a different mix, creating a blue or yellow shell. This happens because of a genetic mutation in the lobsters DNA—the lobster’s biological software—that makes it so the lobster won’t produce the same mix of pigments that most lobsters do.


Check out these links if you want to learn more!

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