When the retail manager at Fresh Catch Seafood and Deli in Mansfield found six orange lobsters while unloading a single 100-pound shipment, he thought the restaurant had been duped.
“When he pulled them out, he said, ‘Oh my God, boss, look, they put the cooked lobsters in with the live lobsters,’” said Bill Sarro, owner of Fresh Catch.
But the lobsters were very much alive, and Sarro soon learned that they are extremely rare. The chances of finding an orange lobster are in the ballpark of one in 10 million, according to Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium.
“One in 10 million? It doesn’t get much better than that,” Sarro said. “It has been unbelievable.”
The lobsters originated in the Magdalen Islands of Quebec, LaCasse said. Sarro received two females and four males, all weighing between 1¼ and 2 pounds.
“The orange color of the lobsters is outstanding. It’s a goldfish or jack o’ lantern orange,” LaCasse said. “They’re big, lustrous-looking lobsters.”
LaCasse said that more and more orange lobsters have been landed in the past five years, which makes researchers believe there may be a handful of “reproductively successful” orange lobsters in a small clustered area.
“A lot of the time, there can be other influences on color, including nutrition,” he said. “Though there is a genetic component which is probably the predominant one.”
Sarro said guests have been coming to the restaurant to get a peek at the unusual crustaceans and that the lobsters are going to remain in the restaurant’s tank for now.
“Customers come in and they all ask about them, so I bring them over to the back and let them take a look,” he said. “They’re not for sale, though. We’re going to keep them here in the tank and let people come and see them to enjoy the naturalness of them.”