'Ghost' Lobster Caught By Fisherman From Ocean Off Maine

By Allan Adamson | Sep 04, 2017 07:32 AM EDT

Lobsters have different colors. Some are blue, some are orange, and some are half orange or half blue. A Maine lobsterman, however, caught one that stands out from many others.

'Ghost' Lobster Caught In Trap

Alex Todd, from Chebeague Island, has hauled lobsters of different colors over years of lobstering but he said that those do not compare on the scale of weirdness when compared with a translucent crustacean that he caught in a trap.

The 48-year-old said that in his decades of lobstering, he had never seen anything such as the translucent white lobster he caught off the north side of Chebeague Island.

The crustacean that Todd caught on Aug. 24 has a ghostly pale blue color but the lobster looks almost transparent. He said that the marine animal, which he caught in his trap alongside brown and mottled green lobsters, was different. Todd described it as definitely weird.

"I've gotten a couple that were weird colors — those bright blues you see sometimes," Todd said. "But that's the first all-white one I've gotten."

How Lobsters Get Their Color

The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, which shared the image of the bizarre lobster on Facebook, explained that normal lobsters get their color by mixing blue, red and yellow protein pigments. Different genetic mutations also affect the color of lobsters.

Lobsters can pass along shell colors from parents to offspring just like humans pass down genes for eye color.

Albino Lobsters

Albino lobsters are completely devoid of pigment and they would remain white even when cooked. University of Maine's Lobster Institute executive director Robert Bayer said that albino lobsters are vanishingly rare.

Not A True Albino

Albino lobsters occur at about one in 100 million but the lobster that Todd caught was not a true albino. The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association said that the crustacean Todd caught likely has a genetic condition that results in partial loss of pigment.

"This lobster probably has a genetic condition called Leucism which isn't a total loss of pigment (which would make it an albino) but instead a partial loss. This is why you can still see some hints of blue on the shell and color on the eyes," the organization explained.

Lobster Back To The Ocean

The lobster was tossed back into the ocean since its tail had been notched, which flags it as an egg-bearing female. Lobsters like this are off-limits due to conservation reasons.

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