The only thing that saved Clawde from the linguini sauce was her blue hue. As Lora Jones unpacked the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio Red Lobster restaurant’s air-lifted live lobster delivery, one crustacean stood out: a rare blue lobster.
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Scientists estimate that a genetic anomaly makes only about one in two million American lobsters blue. Red Lobster workers immediately isolated the lobster — nicknamed Clawde, after the restaurant mascot — to keep her safe. “We kept [it] in the tank and just made sure that nobody took him in the back for dinner,” server Angie Helbig told NPR.
Staff marveled at the unusual sea creature. “At first it looked like it was fake,” culinary manager Anthony Stein told NPR. “It’s definitely something marvelous to look at.”
Soon after Clawde’s arrival, the corporate office phoned the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, which promotes sustainably sourced seafood. Seafood Watch connected Red Lobster with the Akron Zoo, which was excited to adopt the azure lobster.
Kathleen Balogh, animal care manager at the Akron Zoo, headed for the Red Lobster armed with a big cooler of cold saltwater. After the 15-minute ride to the zoo, Clawde got a tank of her own. “There is a little bit of wear and tear from its journey,” Balogh said. Despite this, she added that the female lobster is in good health and adjusting to her new surroundings. Zoo staff will watch over Clawde as she goes through the next molting cycle of shedding and renewing her shell, which can be a delicate time for lobsters.
Akron Zoo’s indoor areas, including Clawde’s tank, are currently closed to the public due to coronavirus. Balogh hopes that the blue lobster will eventually be on public display.
Though the blue color is rare, it’s not the only unusual lobster color. Rare genetic defects can cause lobsters to create a protein that results in yellow, orange or even calico coloration. Albino coloring is the rarest of all, occurring in about one in 100 million lobsters. While exciting for humans who stumble across these colorful crustaceans, stand-out colors make it hard for lobsters to avoid predators.
Image via Richard Wood