OCEAN CITY- A rare blue lobster hauled in off the coast of Ocean City by a commercial fishing vessel in June 2012 found a permanent home at the National Aquarium on Baltimore this week.
In June 2012, Captain John Gourley and mate Tim Aulinskis aboard the “Pot Luck” out of the commercial harbor in West Ocean City discovered a rare blue lobster in their harvest and donated the specimen later named “Toby” to the National Aquarium. For the roughly year and a half since, Toby was housed at the now-defunct National Aquarium in Washington, D.C.
This week, however, the very special lobster joined the ranks of the 17,000-plus animals at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. On Tuesday, Toby became the newest resident in the Atlantic Shelf gallery in the larger Maryland: Mountains to the Sea exhibit. The exhibit depicts the continental shelf habitat off Maryland’s Atlantic coast and has plenty of cave-like structures perfect for lobsters.
According to the National Aquarium, the blue lobster caught off the coast of Ocean City in 2012 and now a resident of the National Harbor in Baltimore is a rare mutation of the lobsters that call the coast off Ocean City and the mid-Atlantic home. Toby’s odd color comes from a rare genetic variation that occurs just once out of every two million lobsters.
The rare lobster harvested by the “Pot Luck” is bright blue. A genetic mutation causes a blue lobster to produce an excessive amount of a particular protein. The protein and a red carotenoid molecule known as astaxanthin combine to form a blue complex known as crustacyanin, giving the lobster its unique blue color.