Blue Lobster: Elusive Neon Shellfish Captured By Fisherman In Nova Scotia, One In 2 Million Chance [PHOTOS]

By Philip Ross on June 11, 2013 5:03 PM EDT

blue lobster
A blue lobster is a one in two million find. (Photo: Reuters)
blue lobster 2
Blue lobster. (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

A blue lobster was caught -- and promptly released -- off the coast of Nova Scotia, a Maritime province of Canada just a short trek from the U.S. state of Maine, on Friday. The surprise catch of the extremely rare lobster shocked fisherman Sheldon Trenholm who, after snapping a few photos to prove his rendezvous with the neon shellfish, returned the blue lobster back to the ocean.

"At first I couldn't figure out what was in there, it was like a blue flashlight flashing on and off," Trenholm told the National Post.

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What are the odds of catching a rare and brilliant blue lobster? According to the University of Maine, the average chance of encountering the elusive crustacean is one in two million.

Lobster Population Declines

According to National Geographic, lobsters, which are closely related to crabs and shrimp and are found in all the world's oceans, are one of the most heavily harvested marine creatures. The business of lobster trapping is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and more than 200,000 tons of lobster are pulled from the sea every year.

Overfishing of clawed lobsters (the most familiar of which are the American and European species) has depleted their numbers. Also, as our oceans become more acidic because of warmer temperatures along the ocean floor, the lobster's shells are getting softer because they're not getting the calcium they need.

National Geographic notes that the largest lobster ever caught was off the coast of Nova Scotia, the same area that the blue lobster was captured last Friday, and weighed 44.4 pounds. The enormous shellfish was between 3 and 4 feet long, and was believed to be over 100 years old.

And Trenholm's blue lobster catch isn't the first blue lobster news to make headlines. In 2009, fisherman Bill Marconi hauled in a cobalt-blue colored lobster, which he first thought was a bright blue beer can, off the coast of New Hampshire. It weighed one-and-a-half pounds.

"I was wicked surprised," Marconi told the Los Angeles Times.

And in 2011, two blue lobsters were caught off the shores of Prince Edward Island in Canada.

What Makes Blue Lobsters Blue?

The blue hue of the rare blue lobster, MSN reports, is the result of a genetic defect that makes the lobster produce an abundance of a certain protein that makes their shells turn neon blue.

"Blue lobsters are better at processing astaxanthin, an antioxidant in the food they eat, which results in their shells favoring a blue pigment rather than the normal brownish color," Los Angeles Times reported.

And rare lobsters don't just come in blue. They've also been seen in yellow, orange and even white. Yellow lobsters are one of the rarest -- you have only a 1 in 30 million chance of encountering one of those.

Read more from iScience Times:

Rare Orange Lobster Turns Up In Mass. Restaurant

Sea Serpent Sighting in Gulf Of Mexico: Scientists Film Rare Oarfish 200 Feet Below Ocean Surface [VIDEO]

Pink Slug Discovered On Australia's Mount Kaputar: How Rare Is Bizarre Creature? [PHOTO]

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