A RARE blue lobster caught close to Kilkeel Harbour has been saved from the dinner plate.
The bright blue crustacean was in a delivery of live lobsters that arrived into Kilkeel last Wednesday (3 October).
It caught the attention of Lisa McBride from Mourne Fishbox who knew it was something special.
Lisa, sales and marketing manager for Mourne Fishbox at Kilkeel Harbour, was amazed to see the vivid blue shell. The chance of a lobster with a naturally occurring blue shell is one in several million with the chances of landing one even rarer.
Lisa McBride from Mourne Fishbox with the rare find.
Lisa told The Outlook about the discovery: “We have five lobster holding tanks and there was a delivery last Wednesday and this blue lobster was in the middle of it.
“I was really surprised to see it, but because of its size and colour it stood out straight away.
“A lobster normally weighs 500g – 600g and this blue lobster was 1.5kg and they are normally dark navy blue.”
As soon as she saw the rare lobster, Lisa got in touch with Sarah Campbell from the Seascope Northern Ireland Lobster Hatchery and Marine Research Centre in Kilkeel.
“Sarah told me that because her antenna are yellow she was born this colour, but her offspring are likely to be blackish blue and reckoned the lobster is about 25 years old.
“When she came down she knew straight away that it was a female lobster just by looking at its tail.
“It is great that we have Seascope on our doorstep. Sarah took it away and we want to make sure it is safe for future generations.”
Sarah Campbell, project manager for Seascope, said the lobster will be released back into the wild in a few weeks.
She said: “A few weeks ago a local fisherman caught a similar one but it was more purple colour which is also as rare as Lisa’s blue one.
“We are going to keep her here to show people and will put her back into the sea after Halloween.”
Sarah says it is only the lobster’s colour that makes her unique.
“She is no different from a normal coloured lobster and offspring will more than likely therefore be a normal colour.
“She is a big female and would be good for breeding because she is so big. Because she is so big she is worth around 10 smaller ones. Lobsters live until they are around 100 years old.”
Bright blue lobsters are so-coloured because of a genetic abnormality that causes them to produce more of a certain protein than others.
Sarah says on release of the lobster she will make a v-notch mark in the lobster’s tail to protect her from being sold.
“This will prevent her from being sold for around four years and although she can be caught she must be put back in and the fishermen are very good at sticking to that.
“We are going to pick a name for her then she will be released shortly.”
If you would like to suggest a name for the lobster you can find out more from Seascope’s Facebook page.