Many lobsters are caught in the ocean every day, but not many of them are see through. A fisherman in Maine recently caught what is known as a “ghost lobster” and appears to be so white it’s almost transculent.
Mike Billings caught the transculent lobster off the coast of Stonington earlier this week, and the photos of the rare find have gone viral after being posted on Facebook. The chances of finding a ghost lobster in the ocean are about one in one hundred million, although someone seems to snag one about every four or five years.
Due to the unusual crustean’s small size, Billings was forced to return the ghost lobster to the sea, in order to comply with local fishing laws. However, some people commented on the photos saying that Billings should have kept the lobster for the local aquarium or maybe allowed it to be documented and researched despite its size.
According to scientists, the unusual color of the lobster is believed to be either a rare genetic mutation or the result of a strange diet. All lobsters have a skin pigment called astaxanthin, which allows them to change their shell shading to blend in easier with their surroundings. Professor Michael Tlusty explained that “The pigment is red in the skin, where it hangs loose and free, but turns blue inside the shell, where proteins bind the astaxanthin.”
The most recent documentation of a ghost lobster was last summer in August 2017, when a different fisherman caught a ghost lobster off the coast of Maine, but that lobster was also thrown back into the ocean, due to it being an egg bearing female.
This is also not the first time Billings has caught a rare lobster. Four years ago, Billings managed to catch one lobster with a blue claw and a rare calico lobster with a speckled brown and orange shell.