In recent months there have been numerous reports of fishermen finding a variety of colored lobsters in their nets. According to subject matter experts, many of these colored lobsters are rare.
Just last month Digital Journal reported six rare orange lobsters arrived, alive, in a restaurant shipment, and a rare blue lobster was found about a week prior to that.
Many of the reported sightings in recent years have been in the Canadian and U.S. eastern shores. So what's the reason for these different hues seemingly becoming so common and publicized in the news?
It seems that the answer to this question is hard to pinpoint because its difficult to gauge without hard data, according to a recent Associated Press report.
AP notes the possible reasons for the sudden appearance of a rainbow of colors in lobsters which include trends in technology, growth in the market that yields more catches, a "greater percentage of misfits than it did in years past," or change in the lobster predator population. Bright colored lobsters stand out more, and if predators are less prominent, the survival of rare lobsters increases.
Screenshot of one of the six rare orange lobsters found in a Massachusetts' restaurant shipment
"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 Diane Cowan, executive director of The Lobster Conservancy in Friendship, Maine.
Social media and the ability to immediately report sightings may be another factor, notes the AP report. Prior to the ability to seamlessly share information, it may be that people lacked the ability to easily report the rare lobsters. Although, scientists also say it is possible the "lobster population as a whole has a greater percentage of misfits than it did in years past," said the AP.
Finding colored lobsters has been historically considered rare. One in two million lobsters is blue, and one in 10 million live lobsters is bright orange. Rarer are yellow and calico lobsters, according to the University of Maine's Lobster Institute, which each carry the odds of 1 in 30 million. Even rarer than those, are lobsters which are split color (half-orange/half brown) and albino. A split lobster is one in 50 million, and an albino lobster carries odds of one in 100 million, notes the Institute.
Without conclusive data, it appears to be hard to determine just why lobsters in a variety of unique shades suddenly seem to be appearing. However, when it does occur, chances are the sighting will be shared across various news and social media platforms.