Another Calico Lobster Makes News

5/10/12 Update: The Aquarium has once again made news by holding a calico lobster that is bound for Biomes Marine Biology Center in Rhode Island. Here's a photo of the new lobster, and more information about lobster colors from Sam's previous post below.

Original 1/14/12 post:
Let’s get something out of the way: invertebrates are awesome! One of the coolest inverts around (in my humble opinion) is the lobster. There are so many cool facts you may not know about these animals, one in particular is that they come in a wide variety of colors!

This blue lobster can be spotted in the Aquarium's Gulf of Maine exhibit.

When most people picture a lobster they imagine a bright red animal on their dinner plate. However, lobsters are only red after they are cooked. Normally they have a brown/green/blue coloration. The really interesting thing about lobster color is all the possible color variations!

American lobster (photo: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons)

You can get blue lobsters (like the one pictured above), yellow lobsters, half brown/half orange lobsters, white lobsters…the list goes on. All of these different colors come with their own probabilities. While white appears to be the most rare at an estimated 1 in 100 million, coming in second place with and approximate 1 in 30 million is the calico lobster. I’m very happy to announce we’ve recently receive a stunningly beautiful calico lobster from our friends at Chatham Fish and Lobster Co.

New addition: A calico colored lobster! (Photo: Adam Clem)

When lobstermen in the area find these rare color variants in their traps they know how rare and special that is and they often donate them to the Aquarium. That is why here at the aquarium you can see a number of blue lobsters, even though in the wild they only occur at an estimated rate of 1 in 2 to 5 million.

In addition to these naturally colorful lobster residents, there is a lobster laboratory at the Aquarium that hatches and grows lobsters for research purposes that can artificially change a lobster’s colors. Our scientists figured out that all lobster color is derived from a pigment called “astaxanthin” found naturally in a lobster’s diet (the same pigment that turns flamingos pink) and by altering the amount of astaxanthin in a lobster’s food they can change their coloration. In fact, we recently added a new lobster to the Edge of Sea Tidepool Touchtank that was reared in the lab upstairs and is artificially blue.

(Photo: Adam Clem)

At this time, we’re undecided if this new calico lobster will be put on exhibit or used in our Live Animal Presentations (see our blog here about lobster presentations). But, next time you’re in the galleries keep an eye out for our impressively colored lobsters. Also, don’t forget…invertebrates are AWESOME!


  1. ed Kennedy new memberJanuary 5, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    I once saw an ad for Red Lobster restaurant chain. It showed a line of red lobsters walking across the ocean floor. I always wondered how cooked lobsters could be down there

  2. This is amazing! Greatest blog post ever!

  3. That's a beautiful shade of blue. I found this description of how you can manipulate the colors very interesting.

    With thanks, my first time on this site. I imagine the color of a lobster is normally connected to issues of camouflage etc. or maybe not. Are they usually difficult to spot. Do they have natural predators in the ocean? I guess I need to learn more about lobster.

    Deep blue sure is pretty!

  4. Interesting, I only thought they were brownish orange in color. What a beautiful color!! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. We had a couple calico this summer at our libstermen dock in Gloucester. In addition a brilliant blue this year. In ghs past we've had s couple albino, some yellow, a half white one we named phantom of the lobster and triple pincer, and multiple clawed crabs.
    The pictures and videos from the dock are at

  6. Beautiful and amazing!

  7. blue that is cool ! want to see a white one lobs :)

  8. WOW!! I knew there were blue lobsters, but the calico is so pretty. I'm curious..if a blue were cooked (God forbid) what color does he turn? great network site, very fascinating. Thanks