Another rare blue lobster is caught and spared from the dinner plate.
Pretty in Blue: Lobster with Recessive Gene Caught
Only about one in every two million lobsters have this recessive gene, a gene that makes the otherwise greenish-gray colored cetacean a pale blue. Lobster fishermen might only ever see one or two in their entire lifetime, -if they are lucky.
Unnaturally Blue Coloration in Nature
Several years ago, there were sporadic occurrences of ‘blue iguanas’ showing up in pet shops. These were ‘Common Green Iguanas’ but instead of the typical bright emerald green, they had a distinct pale-blue tinge.
Unknowing pet buyers wouldpay several times the typical price for these ‘rare’ blue iguanas which, as they grew older, eventually changed to the usual green coloration. A creature such as a reptile (and possibly also the lobster?) is said to be anerythristic (an-er’-i-thris-’tik.) This fancy word from biology is derived from “erythro” meaning “red.” An example of this prefix is erythrocyte, which is a red blood cell. The prefix “an-” in English is equivalent to “un-” so anerythristic literally means “un-red.”
Rare Blue Lobster Yes, But Do They Reproduce?
We really do not know. It just makes them an extraordinarily rare catch. This blue lobster is destined for an aquarium where it will live a very long life, free from the dangers of being caught for the dinner plate but therefore, unable to pass its progeny to the ocean. It is not known if blue lobsters are rare in actual populations of free-range lobsters or if there is an exceptionally high predation factor due to the unusual coloration and that is what makes a blue lobster such a rare catch.
Coloration that does not conceal a prey item in their natural environment tends to make it a target for predators. Only in a predator-free environment could a blue creature actually endure and even flourish. Such would likely be the case of the Fiji Blue Banded Iguana, an iguana with a very pleasing sky-blue coloration.
Figi Banded Iguana
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/29/Brachylophus_fasciatus_%28Fijian_Iguana%29.jpg/745px-Brachylophus_fasciatus_%28Fijian_Iguana%29.jpg (image source)
Lobsters are harvested for their size not by age, but a typical lobster of the size commercially legal for harvest are about 15 years old. Lobsters have a very long life expectancy. In the ocean it
Old, But Ageless: Lobsters
A curious fact about lobsters is that they do not seem to age, they merely grow larger while remaining fertile and reproduce just like more youthful lobsters. This ‘non-aging’ trait of lobsters has to do with structures on their cellular chromosomes called “telomeres.” In all living creatures that ‘age,’ telemeres get shorter and shorter with cell division until the disappear entirely. Science is interested in lobsters for this mysterious natural non-aging trait as a possible ‘fountain of youth‘ as a measure to protect against degenerative diseases of the body.
So, in the immortal words of Booker T. Washington I say “…I do like me some lobster!” (1)
- cite: Saturday Night Live episode (April 10, 1982)