An extraordinary ocean discovery has spurred scientific inquiry after a lobsterman caught a yellow-hued lobster with a genetic mutation so rare, it only affects 1 in every 30 million lobsters.
Upon catching the rare crustacean, lobsterman Marley Babb donated it to the University of New England’s Marine Science Center in Biddeford.
The lobster was affectionately named “Banana,” after its striking coloration.
“After working Wednesday, Marley insisted on driving Banana all the way down from Tenant’s Harbor to drop her off,” Lindsay Forette, lab coordinator and chemical hygiene officer at the marine center, said in a statement on Feb. 5.
Researchers, including Forette and professor of Marine Sciences Markus Frederich, are now studying the specimen.
“UNE has cultivated strong connections with lobstermen and Maine DMR,” said Charles Tilburg, director of the School of Marine and Environmental Programs. “It was through those connections that Markus learned about Banana and Lindsay was able to coordinate with Marley from there.”
Daily Mail reports that the yellow shell color is caused by a genetic condition called leucism, which causes an alteration in shell pigmentation. Leucistic lobsters are also called “crystal lobsters,” which can exhibit a wide array of shell color varieties, including patchy, pale yellow, or even white shells.
Now, in conjunction with Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Hood College in Maryland, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources, scientists are studying the 1.5-pound (approx. 680-gram) lobster, as well as the reasons behind its fascinating yellow hue.
Banana will likely remain in captivity, as researchers say the yellow shell color makes it more vulnerable to predators.