Half-Orange, Half-Brown Lobster Found—How Rare Is It?

The split-colored specimen is among a group of colorful crustaceans caught every year, including calico and blue lobsters.

A rare split-colored lobster caught in Maine last week is said to be a one-in-50-million catch. But is the half-orange, half-brown crustacean really that unusual?

Probably not, says Robert C. Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine in Orono. "They’re uncommon, but not that uncommon," Bayer says. "We see them every year." (Read more about colorful lobsters.)

An unknown fisherman, who recently caught the striking specimen, donated it to the Pine Point Fisherman's Co-op in Scarborough, Maine.

Colorful Club

The split-colored lobster is just one member in a bizarre family of colorful crustaceans, each with its own statistical variation, according to research by the Lobster Institute. Calico lobsters, with speckled brown and orange shells, are 1 in 30 million. Blue lobsters? One in two million.

Lobsters usually sport a combination of yellow, red, and blue hues, though they appear to be dark brown. (Related: "Watch: Very Rare Calico Lobster Caught in New Hampshire.")

Crimson red lobsters—not just ones that turn red when cooked—are a one-in-ten-million find. Bayer says these are prime catches for pranksters, who serve the live animal on a plate to unsuspecting dinner guests.

Albino lobsters are the rarest in the bunch, with odds nearing 1 in 100 million. Sometimes referred to as "crystal" lobsters, they're the only ones that don't turn red in the pot. (Also see "Lobster Caught 'Half Cooked' in Maine.")

The cause of the odd colorations is a mystery, though it's likely a genetic mutation of sorts. "I don't think the actual mechanism is known," Bayer says.

He adds that restaurants often display the bright sea creatures for show. Fishermen also donate them to aquariums.

As for the newly caught lobster, it will soon live in the Maine State Aquarium for thousands of visitors to see.

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