Is this rainbow lobster the 'craziest crustacean'?

Chad Graham
© Chad Graham

Most of us probably don't know that live lobsters can come in a variety of colours. Rare colours of lobster include blue, yellow, orange, white and even split-coloured lobsters. Now, we might add "rainbow" to the list, thanks to Capt. Chad Graham of Brier Island, who discovered one rare specimen last year. According to the CBC, the photo he snapped is now apparently the leading favourite in a "Craziest Crustacean" photo contest that's being held by a car dealership in Nova Scotia.

The rainbow lobster, which has also earned the nickname of "The Technicolor Dream Lobster”, was found off the shore of St. Mary’s Bay. During the flurry of activity on the boat, Graham managed to snap a quick photo, before measuring and tossing it back into the sea, as the little guy was shorter than desired; Canada's Department of Fisheries and Ocean doesn't allow fishermen to keep lobsters with a body length less 82.5 mm (3.25 inches).

It was only after Graham got home and saw the picture that he took that he realized how unusual this lobster was -- primarily purple with iridescent streaks of white, yellow and blue. It's the photo of this critter that's currently leading in the photo contest, with hundreds of Facebook likes.

But looking at the submissions, the variety of weird lobsters is mind-boggling: other photos include split-toned lobsters, calico-coloured lobsters, even a lobster with a strange crown-like growth on its head, and a set of conjoined lobsters.

Andy Smith© Andy Smith
Kyle Redden© Kyle Redden
Trevor Wade Bullerwell© Trevor Wade Bullerwell

Says Billy Mole, the marketing manager at Murray GM Yarmouth & Barrington dealership:

Everybody who lives down here grew up around lobsters their whole lives. There are people seeing crazy stuff that they've certainly never seen before.... People just didn't know there could be that many variations of lobsters.

Tom Albright© Tom Albright
Jill Smith© Jill Smith

The variations in lobster colouring are apparently due to the levels of certain pigments, or chromatophores, in its shell. A reddish lobster might have more red pigment or astaxanthin, but a blue one will have more crustacyanin or blue pigments.

The contest ends January 3, 2017, and the first prize is $500 gift card to spend at any local businesses. To see the rest of the amazing lobster parade, visit the contest's Facebook page.

Tags: Animals | Canada | Oceans

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