While unpacking a 20-crate shipment of lobsters, the retail manager at a Mansfield, Mass., seafood restaurant noticed something odd: Five of the lobsters appeared to have been cooked already.
It must have been a joke, he thought at first, until he saw them move. The bright-orange crustaceans, it turned out, were a one in more than 10 million find, according to marine experts.
In the days since this rarity made local headlines, a frenzy of curiosity-seekers has descended on Fresh Catch, owner Bill Sarro said.
"They were filming a movie with Kate Winslet a mile away, but more people came here," said Sarro. "It's great for business."
Sarro said he knew the finding was important when he got a call from Boston's New England Aquarium.
Several orange lobsters are already on display at the aquarium, spokesman Tony LaCasse said, along with a rarer calico lobster (estimated at 1 in 30 million) and a blue lobster (estimated at 1 in 5 million).
Estimates for the rarity of lobster pigments, which are partly genetic, are in flux, LaCasse said. But the fact that five orange lobsters turned up in one batch, he said, suggests the variation might hold a comparative advantage for its inheritors, at least in the waters around Quebec's Magdalen Islands, where Sarro's orange lobsters originated. Last year, orange lobsters turned up in Cape Cod and New Brunswick.
The rarest of lobster colors is pure white, LaCasse said. Other oddities include bright-yellow lobsters and lobsters with two colors, one on each side.
The aquarium is in talks with Sarro to arrange for one of the carrot-colored creatures to be transported to a marine biologist for research. But at least for now, Sarro said he plans to keep the lobsters on display in tanks at five of his six Fresh Catch locations throughout Massachusetts. After all, it's been great for business.