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URI welcomes yellow lobster

August 4, 2010

A rare yellow lobster caught by a Rhode Island lobsterman has a new home at the University of Rhode Island. URI officials say they plan to put the lobster in a small aquarium on the school’s Bay Campus. First the lobster is getting some squid to eat and a little peace and quiet. School officials say the crustacean was “stressed out” by all the public and media attention.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2010 1:05 pm

    I can’t help wondering how you can tell when a lobster is “stressed out.” Does it look worried? I suppose being captured and handled and having little elastics stuck on your claws, is kind of stressful for any lobster, though I suppose this one has been handled more than most.

    Just seemed funny to me!

    • August 5, 2010 2:23 pm

      Excellent question!

      I’ll ask the URI folks for their explanation. My undertsanding is that lobsters tire out quickly and are easily stressed when removed from their natural environment. Author John McPhee chronicles the lengths a lobster company goes to in order to transport its catch in a great New Yorker article from 2005:

      “Long-distance travel will stress a lobster and affect it physically. Among other things, it loses weight and accumulates ammonia. This can happen on a smooth highway, let alone in giddy turbulence at thirty thousand feet. If a lobster succumbs, the ammonia will detonate as a shaped olfactory charge. The next time your quarterback is unconscious, put a dead lobster under his nose and he’ll stand up ready for action. If lobsters are going to travel the globe, they need rest at strategic places en route – they need to “float,” in the common language of the trade, for recuperative periods.”

  2. August 5, 2010 4:15 pm

    Lobster update:

    Ed Baker from URI’s research aquarium says the main sign of stress in lobsters is “listlessness.”

    “You want your lobster to be lively and feisty,” Baker told me, but this lobster was looking droopy after being handled as much as 100 times a day.

    “In the widely-circulated photos, you can see its big claws are hanging down,” Baker said. “When lobsters from our aquarium are pulled out of the water, their claws go up and they’re ready for action.”

    Baker says he plans to display the yellow lobster in a clear glass tank, so it won’t have to be pulled out of the water every time someone wants to see it. He’s hoping to arrange public viewing sessions as early as next week.

    One last bit of trivia: the yellow lobster has been dubbed “Tyler” in honor of the nine-year-old boy whose mother took the first widely-circulated photo.

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