Roche Bros. sells a lot of lobster at its 20 grocery stores—more than 250,000 pounds or nearly 200,000 of the greenish-brown crustaceans each year.

However, last week at its Westborough, Mass., store, a distinctly orange lobster stood out in a shipment of normally colored lobsters that came in from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.

The 1 2/3 pound lobster is considerably more rare than a blue lobster, which staff at the market can remember seeing last in their tanks about 15 years ago. Blue lobsters are the most common color in the oddly colored lobster spectrum. Most orange lobsters have a mottled mix of orange and black, but this male lobster is predominantly pumpkin-like in his color.

orange lobster
Roche Bros. grocery store delivered this handsome lobster to the Aquarium today.

This lobster is most likely 7 to 9 years old, and he is a wily character to have reached that age given his day-glo appearance in the briny, dark depths of the North Atlantic. With that color, he is flashing a neon sign to many large fish predators, so he deserves much credit to have survived.

orange lobster in blue bucket
The lobster takes a dunk during its photo shoot.

The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine estimates that orange lobsters occur naturally at an incidence of 1 in 30 million. Lobsters, like this fellow, have certain genetic mutations and cannot produce the proteins that layer together to create the typical brownish color. Those proteins are cooked away when lobsters are cooked, creating the red lobster that most diners see on their plate.

Summer is the season when lobster demand and catches are at their peak. Between New England and eastern Canada, at least 300 million lobsters are landed each year. So with huge lottery-like numbers like that, it becomes more likely that you’ll find an oddly colored lobster at some point over a long season.

orange lobster closeup
Closeup of the orange lobster
This lobster will not be visible to the public for a while as he undergoes a month-long quarantine. Then he will either find a home in a future exhibit here in Boston or at another public aquarium.

Learn more about lobsters

The Aquarium has been lucky to provide a home for many colorful lobsters. Click through the links below to learn more about these colorations and see pictures of these beautiful animals.

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