Fishermen Catch Rare Yellow Lobster Named ‘Banana,’ One-in-30 Million Born with Genetic Mutation

by Atlanta Northcutt

One special lobster named “Banana” is being saved from the dinner pot by gaining fame for being one-in-30 million born with a genetic mutation that turns its shell yellow.

The Maine fisherman who made this once-in-a-lifetime catch is also receiving bragging rights for bagging “Banana.”

Marley Babb is a lobsterman in Tenants Harbor, Maine. Babb made the decision to save the lobster from becoming the main course to being the main exhibit for scientific study.

He donated “Banana” to the University of New England’s Marine Science Center in Biddeford, Maine.

Why Do Lobsters Become Yellow?

When thinking of the scrumptious ocean jewel most picture the deep red hue of the outer shell.

However, there are both blue and yellow lobsters. These unique colors come from their pigment changing from red due to genetic mutations. It involves the way the proteins bind with the shell.

This form of crustacean has previously been called a “crystal lobster.” The mutation is called leucism. It results in pale, white, or patchy coloration.

Although the find is more than cool, what’s not so cool is the fact this leucism could be a direct result of global warming and climate change.

Mutation Caused by Harmful Environmental Change?

The University of New England’s Marine Science Center is now sharing an $860,000 grant with the Maine Department of Marine Resources and other organizations. These studies will serve to better understand the result of rising temperatures in the waters off of the Gulf of Maine.

The teams are looking at how successful lobster larvae are at growing to adulthood in these waters.

These investigations come after the release of two new 2019 studies that found how the warming oceans are affecting oceanography in different locations. They also affect the impact populations throughout southern New England and Atlantic Canada.

About “Bananas”

“Bananas” weighs between a pound to a pound and a half. The size is average for most Maine lobsters. However, the coloring might be a sign of the dangerous effects rising water climates can cause.

While in the wild, lobsters with a lighter shell pigment are more easily spotted. This affects the crustacean’s chance of survival, since it’s more viable to predators.

“Bananas” will be protected by the Marine Science Center team. They say they are not planning to return the lobster to the wild and are currently caring for it at the center.

Studying Effects of Warming Waters on Lobsters

The University of Maine releases two studies in 2019. They discovered rising temperatures in the ocean are a factor in both the increase and decrease in lobster populations.

‘The Cresting Wave: Larval Settlement and Ocean Temperatures Predict Change in The American Lobster Harvest” is the first study. The results are sobering. Reports predict lobster landings within the next decade “to decline to near historical levels in the Gulf of Maine.” There will be “no recovery in the south.”

‘The Brighter Side of Climate Change: How Local Oceanography Amplified a Lobster Boom in the Gulf of Main” is the second. It “examines the interplay of ocean warming, tidal mixing, and larval behavior.” These results report “a brighter side of climate change.”

Continuous warming of waters in the southern region of the Gulf of Maine moderately expands the areas for larval growth. The heat only impacts the surface of the waters. This makes the majority of the lobster larva who mature in the colder bodies of the water won’t survive.

The strong tides driven by the Bay of Fundy prevent thermal stratification in the deeper waters of the northeast. This fact “made an expansive area of seabed more favorable for larval settlement.”

According to researchers, the “strong lobster population increases in this region over the last decade and offsets potential future declines.”