The 'pretty' albino lobster that made a P.E.I. couple say 'holy hell'

A P.E.I. couple was caught off guard when hauling an unusual lobster out of the sea in 1988.

Rare lobster caught near island's Machons Point in May 1988

Albino lobster caught in P.E.I.

35 years ago
Duration 1:38
In May 1988, Wylaine LaFoy reports on an albino lobster that was caught in P.E.I.

There's a reason a certain restaurant chain isn't called White Lobster.

And that's presumably because most of the lobsters on dinner plates are a different colour.

But when a couple pulled a white lobster from the waters off Machons Point, P.E.I., in May of 1988, it was inevitable that CBC News would send a camera around to have a look.

"I figured, holy hell — you know? What's this thing doing? I've never seen one before," said Shirley MacLeod, when speaking to CBC News about the unusual catch she and her husband had made.

'Special enough to save'

Two hands holding white lobster
The P.E.I. couple who caught an albino lobster in 1988 immediately recognized how rare and special it was. (Midday/CBC Archives)

Reporter Wylaine LaFoy said "the MacLeods figured it was special enough to save," which led to the crustacean being kept in a holding tank, rather than moving on to the usual food-related destination.

However, when the lobster was shown on television, including on CBC's Midday, it had started showing some blue on its carapace. MacLeod said it had changed its appearance since being caught.

"When we took her out of the trap, she had, like, a mother of pearl glaze on her — she was really pretty," MacLeod said.

"And then  we brought her ashore and she was in for a day, she stayed white and then she started to turn shades of light blue."

Rare and always newsworthy

Bin full of lobsters
Most lobsters pulled from the sea are greenish, like the ones shown here, which were caught in Prince Edward Island in the spring of 1988. (Midday/CBC Archives)

LaFoy said marine biologists confirmed that albino lobsters are rare among their peers.

"They say it could be a genetic defect that made the lobster white, or it could be something in the environment," LaFoy told viewers. "But they're not sure why it's turning blue."

Such lobster finds have made the news over the years, including:

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