A catch straight out of the deep blue sea
Canadian lobsterman Bobby Stoddard caught this rare blue lobster in early May. He's not sure what to do with it.
June 11th, 2012
09:46 PM ET

A catch straight out of the deep blue sea

A rare event is said to happen once in a blue moon. But a blue moon has nothing on a blue lobster.

Canadian lobster boat captain Bobby Stoddard said he and his crew were hauling in their lobster traps one day in early May when one of the men called out, "Hey, we got a pretty one in this trap!"

"I turned around and said, 'Holy smoke!' " said Stoddard, 51, of Clarks Harbour, Nova Scotia.

In the trap with three other, ordinary greenish-brown lobsters was a remarkably bright blue one, the first lobster of that hue Stoddard had seen in his 33 years of fishing for a living.

"This is the only one that I've ever seen," he told CNN. "And my dad has been a lobsterman of about 55 years, and he caught one about 45 years ago, but hadn't seen one since."

Bobby Stoddard, lobster hunter

Stoddard captains one lobster boat, his father another, and his three brothers work with them. On a good day, they haul in about 3,000 of the crustaceans, he said. Multiply that times 33 seasons, and that's a lot of lobsters. But only one blue one.

According to the University of Maine Lobster Institute, blue lobsters are a one-in-2-million phenomenon. A genetic variation causes the lobster to produce an excessive amount of a particular protein that gives it that azure aspect.

Stoddard offered his find (a male, by the way) to a nearby ocean research institute, but "they didn't seem too interested," he said.

His girlfriend pushed him to offer it for sale for on the classified-ad site Kajiji.com, he said. Having no idea what the market for a 1.5-pound blue lobster might be, he priced it at $200.

"I wanted to put a number high enough on it so nobody would be interested in it," Stoddard confessed.

However, he said he started to get some "weird" phone calls and e-mails scolding him for trying to sell such a rare creature, so he canceled the ad.

"I'm kind of a shy guy," he said. "When things get controversial, I kind of go hide. This is what I do for a living; I catch lobsters and sell them. I'm just trying to do the right thing. I thought, 'I just don't need this hassle.' "

For now, the cerulean crustacean is residing comfortably in a nice, cold holding tank at Stoddard's business, feeding on bits of fish and mollusks as normal. A massive aquarium is under construction near the CN Tower in Toronto, but Stoddard hasn't decided whether to offer his specimen for display there.

"I don't know what the best thing is to do," he said. "It probably belongs back in the ocean, but I'd like for as many people as possible to see it."

Related stories:

Blue lobsters aren't the only rare ones - what about calico lobsters?

And then of course, there are always really, really big lobsters as well.

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Filed under: Animals • Canada • Food • Lobsters • Science
soundoff (593 Responses)
  1. Allison

    Pretty cool – but when I read stories like this, I wonder "What if ?" What if sea creatures or birds picked up and carried off a human being to their environment? What if animals had People Zoos?
    We find some wonderful things – I love aquariums because, short of diving, I'd never see those creatures
    BUT Man is just way too good at spoiling the wonders of nature

    June 12, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cat523

    Please put it back in the ocean! How is it supposed to pass on the gene that makes it blue if you keep it by itself for the rest of its life or kill it?

    June 12, 2012 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
    • dogs rule

      I agree. He's beautiful and should go back in the water and left alone.

      June 12, 2012 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
    • vdaeftger

      its atypical ... its the result of random mutation. and there maybe a reason why there are so few .... blue is easier to spot on the rock bottom than brown.

      So hes doing the lobster a favor.

      June 12, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • altruism or profit

      I suspect he "offered" the blue lobster to a conservancy at a price that was quite unappetizing. When given the opportunity to do something altruistic, what would a typical person do?

      June 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Are you serious?!

      The guy didn't want to kill it, but for some reason no one else wants it. If you put it back in the ocean its more likely to become part of the circle of life than if you keep it and try to make another blue one. So choose which is more important, its freedom, or preserving the blue because you plan is contradictory.

      June 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. j0eschm0e

    I was scuba diving once, and there was this kid fishing on shore catching small mackeral. I asked if I could have a couple. he gave me 2. said i was going to feed the lobsters. got down to the bottm, and found a lobster hiding under a rock, kind of burrowed under it. the hole was smaller than he was so he looked a little trapped. but there was plenty of life in him. I dangled the nose of the fish in front of his nose, and latched onto that pretty quick lol. I played tug of war for 10 seconds or so, he wasnt letting go for nothing haha. right after I let go he stuffed that whole 8" mackeral into his mouth and swallowed it whole.peeked into his hole with my dive light and could see the tip of the tail sticking out his mouth. he was hungry

    June 12, 2012 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
    • fish story

      Now that's a whopper of a fish story. Nice fable, Joe.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. peter

    Well, he was good not to eat the poor thing and selling it to someone who might, a good aquarium that might want it would be a good thing , they would also know how to keep this rare creature alive and well. Good luck to him and the lobster!

    June 12, 2012 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. honest john

    $200? Should start the price at $2,000. Them things are super rare.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lars3146

    "I don't know what the best thing is to do," he said. How about returning it to the sea where it belongs and finding a different profession instead of murdering innocent animals for profit and depleting the ocean of its natural resources!

    June 12, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      I agree about returning it to the ocean. But, find another career? Boy, you're naive. Life feeds on life. You may as well stand up for the rights of carrots. Why is no one protecting them?

      Tell ya what. Convince the lion to step away from the gazelle—for good. Do that and I'll gladly go vegan. In the meantime I'll continue my omnivorous ways.

      June 12, 2012 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
    • diegohomans

      I'm all for returning Blue to the ocean so s/he can spread her gene. As for the rest of your comment, does the phrase "food chain" mean anything to you?

      June 12, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
    • food chain indeed

      Paul, lions are obligate carnivores while humans are omnivores. Besides, lions don't use technology to clean out the savannah of all prey, leaving all other predators to starve as well. When prey get scarce, lions die. When humans fish out the seas (North Atlantic cod, NA bluefin tuna, soon halibut, soon sharks), what will happen to us and the rest of the marine food chain? It's a matter of sustainability, not an absolute ban. Problem is, humans aren't capable of restraining themselves.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Are you serious?!

      waaah waaaah waaaah – lobster is tasty.

      June 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dogs rule

    I think this beauty earned a right to go back into the ocean and make more lobsters. It's gorgeous. How could anyone think of eating it?

    June 12, 2012 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. bellenoitr

    Video tape it, or have a National Geo photographer take a high quality photo of it, then bring it back to where you caught it and set it free.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
    • honest john

      Why? So some fish can eat it? No, you need to find another blue one of the opposite gender and breed them.

      June 12, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. crabman

    i have a friend who caught one while checking his lobsters traps in the cape cod canal --its now on display in a tank

    June 12, 2012 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. VIJAY

    I wants to buy and keep like pet and find a another regular and try to see if can produce another of same color, (lobster farming) if possible

    June 12, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Michigander5

      You can already buy cobalt blue lobsters as pets

      June 12, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. unowhoitsme

    You have a picture of it, so put it back into the ocean where it can produce some baby blues.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Goodwithbutter

    Eat it with some butter, veggies and maybe some fries. Who knows you might turn blue too!

    June 12, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tom Jefferson

    Why does the though of NOT killing something truly special upsets you so much.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
    • What are you talking about?

      "why does the though" ?????

      June 12, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
    • What are you talking about?

      I don't know why I posted that spelling correction for Tom's comment. I must be a complete idiot with the typist's equivalent of Tourette's Syndrome. I'll go away now.

      June 12, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Correction?

      Correction troll be gone!....I banish you to the land of Typographical Errors....A.k.a CNN.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
    • NicPayne

      Tom obviously forgot the "t" at the end of "though". not that hard to figure out

      June 12, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • bryan

      Really? It's not that hard to figure out....

      June 12, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • situationalawareness

      Add a 't' to that mentally, and you suddenly have a word.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Guess that makes me a s a v a g e. Mmmm, with melted butter!

      June 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lizabeth

      Any normal caring human being would be upset at the way these are boiled alive. Why can't they be killed first. That part I don't understand. Think about it would you as a living creature wish to die before being boiled? Sure hope they let it go but probably not. Money is what is important right?

      June 12, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Scrumps

      The need to be boiled alive because of the toxins in their blood – I can't quote exactly why, but it has to do with the amount of copper in their blood – Once they die starts to pollute their body and makes eating them toxic to humans, but if they die while being cooked it prevents it from being released.

      I'm sure I got it wrong, but there is a real reason they need to be cooked alive-

      June 12, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • trixy

      as long as you kill them IMMEDIATELY before boiling, you CAN kill them in a humane way as I described. Just jam a knife right behind the brain.

      June 12, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • fatherheathen

      They're boiled alive because the suffering enhances the flavor.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • chef

      Wrong. Lobsters are cooked many other ways besides being boiled and they are always killed first, usually with a knife. I would know, i almost got sent home from my first kitchen job as a teenager because i refused to cut the lobster in half while it was still alive!

      June 12, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • ice or icepick

      Scrumps, you got it partially right. No, lobsters don't contain any toxins but they do decay rapidly if left at room temperature. People who cook their own lobsters and have some compassion typically take a large piece of ice and ice down the lobster's brain for 5 minutes before adding to boiling water. Presumably, an iced brain responds slowly to painful stimuli. However, the lobsters I observed even after icing still went nuts as soon as they were dropped in the water, suggesting a very painful death indeed. Perhaps they should get an icepick to the brain immediately prior to cooking for a quick, humane death.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      It is not true that they need to be boiled alive. The most humane way to cook them is to kill them by severing their "spinal cord" essentially behind their head, which kills them immediately, then put them in boiling water.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • rich

      Boiling them is the safest and fastest way for them to die. Yes it sounds cruel but they are dead within seconds of hitting the water. They go into shock and die almost immediately.

      June 12, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • themanhammer

      Yeah I don't believe that. That's just what they say to calm peoples nerves. Just like they say you die of shock before you hit the ground if your falling out of the sky. Total BS they should kill the lobster first.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ready

      Too bad almost every normal caring human being disagrees with you. Guess you are the abnormal

      June 12, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • trixy

      you don't have to boil them alive. You can shove a knife in the back of their brain to kill them instantly.

      June 12, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Lilith

      It is pretty sad,especially since they scream O_O I'm not like so worried about animals and stuff that I won't eat em,but I feel bad for the lobsters out of all of them. 🙁

      June 12, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Michigander5

      That "scream" is steam escaping their shells...Lobsters and Crabs cannot actually scream....its kind of like when you boil water in a tea kettle. the water boils and gasses are forced out of a small opening while the rest of it is sealed.. making a whistling noise.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Antonio

      The "screaming" you hear is pressure releasing from the shell. Lobsters don't have vocal chords thus making it impossible to produce any vocal sound.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • silly2

      lilith, they don't scream, that is a myth. I've heard their nervous system is so unevolved they hardly feel pain. But that may just be something to make the squeamish lobster-lover feel better. The problem I have with eating lobster is that they can live so long, over 100 years. It just seems a shame to kill something with the potential of such a long life.

      June 14, 2012 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      They can and should be killed first–it's not difficult and can be done pretty humanely. The thing about lobsters is that their meat starts to go bad as soon as they die, so it needs to be done just before they're cooked. I agree that I hope this lobster doesn't end up as dinner. The captain sounds like a pretty decent guy– and from what I've heard about lobster fishing, it's not something you go into to get rich.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • i12bphil

      Their nerve system does not have pain receptors.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • MG

      The reason lobsters are boiled alive is that in insures a safe eating product. You need to know that the lobster is alive (or very recently killed) because if you boil a dead lobster;
      1- you may not know when it died
      2- if it died more that a couple of hours before cooking, you will poison yourself by eating it. The toxins that develop in dead crustaceans can be deadly to humans.
      The other question; how to you kill a lobster in a "humane way"? Do you poke it with a skewer between the eyes and hope to reach the brain?, do you bash it on the counter and hope that it dies?, do you hang it from a mini home made gallows? Your suggestions are welcome...

      June 12, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • NotForYou

      They taste best boiled with real butter on them...yum!

      June 12, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Because the fear adds flavor.....bwaa ha ha haaaa

      June 12, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • rmr026

      The lobsters are boiled alive because they contain a bacteria in them that will cause the meat to go bad quickly after death. Also, lobsters have no central nervous system and there is no time to process that it is in pain prior to death.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dliodoir

      I'm a normal caring human being and if the fisherman who caught it chooses to not kill it, I have no problem with that. It appears as if YOU have a problem if he chooses to kill it or sell/give it to someone who will kill it and consume it's tasty tasty flesh. It's an animal. Of course no HUMAN would want to be boiled alive. . .but the lobster has no concept of it's impending fate in the same fashion that a human would. You are projecting human emotion and reason onto something that is incapable of them. I know YOU feel like you're a better person because you "care" about this animal. . .but the animal doesn't care that you care and it doesn't care about it's fate. It just is. It is spawned, it eats, it breeds and it dies. There is no emotion or sentiment associated with its existence at all. If you choose not to eat animals. . .great. You SHOULD do things that make you feel better. But don't judge others who make different choices through the lens of your artificial and essentially irrational view of animal consciousness, emotion and mortality.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Some people may think it's cruel to cook a lobster alive. The lobster's brain is extremely small and it lacks a central nervous system. By the time the lobster is put into the water, there is no time for it to process pain before it dies. Lobsters must be cooked alive because bacteria will enter the meat quickly destroying it. There really is no alternative, for your own safety. Never eat a cooked lobster that has a curled tail. That means the lobster died before it was cooked.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • across12

      They can be killed easily with a blow right on center of their head but those suckers won't do it. They are enjoying it by throwing them alive in the steamer. I wish them from the bottom of my heart to turn into lobsters upon their death as humans, and get caught in the net, see how they like it then.

      June 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      I care, Lizabeth...I care how delicious they are gonna taste as I cook them alive. Who cares what they feel?

      June 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Happerdan

      So we should kill them BEFORE we kill them...got it...oh and hate that money!! It is the least important thing in the world. It dosen't do anything for anyone.

      June 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Are you serious?!

      Because as soon as you let them die, bacteria in their body that their biology keeps in check quickly start to spoil the flesh. You must cook it right away – so they could stab them right before they boiled them, but I'm not sure you'd find that any more humane.

      June 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • max3333444555

      oh please.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • julzrael

      Amen. It's really beautiful. What is wrong with us that we feel this need to have to rush to kill things, first thing?
      I agree with the donation to a public Aquarium. They could also release it, but it could again end up in a net. I applaud Bobby Stoddard for keeping the Beautiful Blue Dude alive and fed. Way to go, Bobby!

      June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. toldUso

    It looks delicious!

    June 12, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. little flap

    Will people try to keep them now to try to breed more blue ones?

    June 12, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
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