Mysterious, Colorful Lobsters Being Caught

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Lobsters sporting rare, unexpected colors and patterns are becoming more common in catches, and no one knows why.

Blue, pink, orange and even calico lobsters are winding up in traps. The orange ones are perhaps causing the most problems, since some chefs think they've already been cooked. But then the live, snapping crustacean reminds them otherwise.

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Maybe social media is partly to blame?

"Are we seeing more because the Twitter sphere is active and people get excited about colorful lobsters?" Michael Tlusty, research director at the New England Aquarium in Boston, told Associated Press. "Is it because we're actually seeing an upswing in them? Is it just that we're catching more lobsters so we have the opportunity to see more?"

He added, "Right now you can make a lot of explanations, but the actual data to find them out just isn't there."

Information from NOAA points out that lobsters sometimes turn an odd, different color when they eat a single type of food. (That reminds me of Willy Wonka's Violet, the Blueberry Girl.) That phenomenon, for lobsters, usually only happens in the lab, however.

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In the ocean, blue lobsters appear as a genetic anomaly. I'm guessing the calico and other colored/patterned lobsters do as well. Supposedly, once cooked, they look and taste the same as a regular hued lobster.

But why are there so many unusual colored ones now?

As AP mentions:

The odds of catching a blue lobster are 1-in-2 million, while orange comes in at 1-in-10 million. Yellow and orange-and-black calico lobsters have been pegged at 1-in-30 million, split-colored varieties at 1-in-50 million, and white — the rarest of all — at 1-in-100 million.

Such off-colored lobsters look as bizarre to other marine life as they do to us, so they are more visible to predators.

"But with the predator population down, notably cod, there might be greater survival rates among these color morphs that are visually easier to pick out," said Diana Cowan, executive director of The Lobster Conservancy.

Cowan has received many colorful lobsters over the years from lobstermen. She told AP that the prettiest one was pink and purple.

Check out the slideshow on this Fox News page to see more images of the lobster misfits.

(Blue Lobster; Credit: Rick Wahle)