Behold, the greatest freak of the seven seas: a ghostly transparent mutant lobster.
This incredible specimen was caught by 10th-generation fisherman Alex Todd off the coast of Maine, just north-east of Chebeague Island. You’ll be pleased to know that Todd chucked the lobster back into the sea shortly after catching it because he noticed it was an egg-carrying female.
“It was really different and really cool,” Todd told ABC News. “I’ve never seen a white one. This one was translucent with just a hint of blue in it.”
Most miraculously of all, Todd believes his family have previously caught and re-released the same individual over the past few weeks too.
This kind of pigmentation on a lobster is insanely rare. Your everyday lobster gets its dark brown coloring from mixing yellow, blue, and red protein pigments. Occasionally, genetic mutations can meddle with the production of these pigments, causing them to appear unusual colors.
Oceanographers estimate that just one lobster in 2 million is blue due to a genetic defect that produces an excessive amount of a particular protein, according to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine. The odds of finding an all yellow lobster are estimated to be one in 30 million. Split-colored lobsters – one half-brown, one half-orange – are around one in 50 million.
Rarest of all are these “crystal” lobster, estimated at one in 100 million. Fun fact: They’re the only lobsters that don’t turn an orangey-red after you cook them (not that you would want to do that, obviously).
Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association explains that this freshly caught 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 colour on the eyes.”
Animals with leucism, or albinism, are all the rarer because they are easily picked out by predators in the wild and can often have other health problems.
Although the lobster is now back swimming the seas of the East Coast, its story doesn’t end there. For one reason or another, it’s also gone viral on Twitter and acquired the name “Lesbian Moon Lobster.” While it isn’t clear how the lobster’s sexuality was determined, it has garnered newfound fame, complete with thousands of loyal fans and even its own parody account.