“It was almost like winning the lotto!”
That was the reaction of Peter Marche, a fish harvester out of Felix Cove, to a freaky two-tone black and blue lobster that he caught in his trap on June 17.
© Frank Gale photo
Peter Marche holds the two-tone black and blue lobster that he caught off Felix Cove, St. George’s Bay on June 17.
He has never heard of a two-tone lobster being caught in this province and it’s the first one he ever seen in his 49 years of fishing. He said he started out fishing lobster at 13 years of age and in 2013, just a year before retiring from fishing, he catches this strange creature.
“I don’t know if the numbers have something to do with it?” Marche quipped.
The strange looking lobster is actually two genders female on the blue side and male on the traditional-coloured side, with the opposite genital organs indicating the sex on those two sides.
Other identifying characteristics of the gender include the larger claw of a male on the dark side and the smaller claw on the blue female side and the appropriate smaller and larger sides of the tail on the two sides.
Blue lobsters have been caught in Western Newfoundland before and Marche caught one some years back that he had to return to the water because it was egg bearing. He also caught an all yellow lobster before and an all orange one, which had the appearance it was already cooked, despite being quite alive.
“But this is the rarest of them all and what makes it so unique is that it has the two different genders,” Marche said.
His family learned from doing a little research online that a split-coloured lobster was caught off the coast of Massachusetts in late October of 2012, but that one was half black and half orange.
In that article, according to the New England Aquarium in Boston, such an unusual colour pattern happens once in every 50 to 100 million lobsters. The half-and-half pattern is suspected to be the result of a cellular split during the lobster’s embryonic development, just after fertilization.
A University of Maine study suggests only one in two million lobsters will have the mutation causing a blue shell.
This mutation causes a blue lobster to produce an excessive amount of a particular protein. The protein and a red carotenid molecule known as astaxanthin combine to form a blue complex known as crustacyanin, giving the lobster its blue color.
Fishing lobster is really a family affair for the Marche’s of Felix Cove as not only does he have an enterprise license, but his wife Eleanor is an avid fish harvester too, with her own license for 30 years.
Marche said when he went at it he said he would be making it a 50-year career and if all goes well with his health, he will be fishing again next year but that will be his last.
His son Colin has been fishing with him for five years and Peter is hoping he will be the one to take over his enterprise when he retires.
When visiting home, their two daughters Cheryl and Chantal, along with their other son Marcel, all jump aboard the boats and go out on the water fishing with their parents.