New Brunswick

Lucky the translucent lobster may be 1 in 100 million

Robinson Russell has been fishing lobster at Grand Manan for 20 years. Never had he seen an “almost rainbow-coloured” lobster until this week.

New Brunswick fishermen bring aboard a rare specimen, now residing at Grand Manan's Harbour Grille

After this rare lobster was hauled from the Bay of Fundy, fisherman Robinson Russell named it Lucky. (Robinson Russell)

Robinson Russell has been lobster fishing in Grand Manan, N.B., for 20 years.

He's seen blue lobsters, yellow lobsters and 20-pound lobsters.

But never had he seen an "almost rainbow-coloured" lobster until 3 p.m. last Tuesday, Nov. 21.

As he's done for many years, Russell was fishing in the Bay of Fundy with five men on his vessel the Guardian.

"We were just pulling traps when some guy was like, 'Whoa, look at this,'" he said. "We all stopped what we were doing for a minute to check it out."

Rarest kind

Russell said white lobsters, which lack pigments in their shells, are the rarest you can find.

According to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, the chances of finding an albino lobster are one in 100 million. But Robert C. Bayer, executive director of the institute, said this is just an estimate.

"There is no firm statistic on that," he said. "It is strictly a guess."

Bayer said it is easier to win the lottery than find a white lobster.

But the lobster Russell found is almost translucent, with hints of blue.

Lucky the lobster is on display at Harbour Grille, a restaurant in Grand Manan. Unlike other lobsters in the restaurant, Lucky is not for sale. (Layne Ingalls/Harbour Grille)

The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association thinks those lobsters suffer from a genetic condition known as leucism, a partial loss of pigmentation. That explains why they still have hints of colour on their shells and eyes.

They are extremely rare as well.

"[The fishermen] thought it was cool too," said Russell. "They had never seen one either."

He said rare-coloured lobsters, although unusual, are still edible.

Lucky the Lobster

After finding the lobster, which is about 38 centimetres long and weighs almost a kilogram, Russell named it Lucky. 

"Anything that is one in 100 million is pretty lucky, right?"

He took it to Harbour Grille, a restaurant in Grand Manan that sells live lobsters.

Lucky was placed inside his own small tank and is not for sale. Customers have been taking pictures.

"People are dropping by to see the lobster," said Bernadine Zwicker, owner of Harbour Grille. "It's really neat."

Russell said he might call the Huntsman Marine Science Centre aquarium in Saint Andrews to see if it can take Lucky.

He thinks it will be a good place for Lucky, because it already has a variety of lobsters.


Maria Jose Burgos is an award-wining journalist with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Tips?