Background Info

In June 2012, the crew of the Pot Luck fishing boat caught a rare blue lobster off the coast of Maryland. Named Toby, the oddity is now living at the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C.

 

American lobsters, like Toby, are usually either olive-green or greenish-brown. Sometimes they will have orange, reddish, dark green, or black speckles and bluish colors near their joints, but it is rare to find a lobster that is completely blue. A blue lobster like Toby is caused by a genetic problem. The lobster's body makes too much of a certain protein, which turns its shell blue.

Fast Facts

  • Lobsters turn bright red only after they have been cooked. While they are living, most lobsters are either olive-green or greenish-brown. Sometimes lobsters will have orange, reddish, dark green, or black speckles and bluish colors in the joints of their appendages.
  • Blue lobsters occur about one in every 2 million lobsters. As is the case with most oddly colored lobsters, the blue coloring is caused by a genetic defect.
  • One out of every thirty million lobsters is yellow.
  • Some lobsters are naturally bright red before they have been cooked. Bright red lobsters occur one out of every ten million lobsters.
  • Lobsters can be more than one color. One in every fifty million lobsters is a split-colored lobster, or lobster that is two distinct colors. These two colors can be split down the middle of the lobster or in a checkerboard pattern.
  • Crystal lobsters, or albino lobsters, are lobsters that do not have any pigment. They are the only lobsters that do not turn red when they are boiled. Instead, these lobsters keep their clear coloring giving them their "crystal" name. Albino lobsters occur only one in a hundred million lobsters.

For Further Exploration

Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

albino

Noun

an organism with little or no pigmentation.

coast

Noun

edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

Encyclopedic Entry: coast

genetic

Adjective

having to do with genes, inherited characteristics or heredity.

lobster

Noun

large marine crustacean, often caught for food.

pigment

Noun

color.

protein

Noun

molecule necessary for all living organisms.

rare

Adjective

unusual or uncommon.

Credits

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Photographer

Justin Brooks

Editor

Jessica Shea

Page Producer

Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Society

Works Cited

Medrano, Kastalia. "Weird & Wild: Odd-Colored Lobsters Decoded." National Geographic News. National Geographic Society, 10 July 2012. Web. 25 July 2012.

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