Aboard his vessel named Force of Habit, Captain Daryl Dunham recently caught this peculiar lobster in Stonington, Maine. It’s a little speckled on one side, and creamsicle-orange on the other, and an unnaturally straight line meets both of these sides right down at the middle. What’s going on with this lobster?
Lobsters can be a variety of colors, from brown to blue to yellow, depending on the proteins that bind to astaxanthin, a carotenoid pigment, says Richard Wahle, director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine. “A variety a proteins bind with astaxanthin and mask it to varying degrees,” he says, resulting in that wide spectrum of possibilities. (When a lobster of any shade is steamed or plunged into scalding water, it will turn red, he adds.)
A two-toned exoskeleton like this one is not new to science. Back in 1959, researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and University of New Hampshire trawled through past papers and discussed specimens that were, among other mashed-up palettes, “half normal color and half light sky blue” and “half greenish black and half light orange.” And these colorways can be a clue that something else is going on, too. “Split-color lobsters are often also split sexes,” Wahle says.
Find out more about this on Atlas Obscura.
(Image Credit: Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries)