A Rare Calico Lobster Found Its Way to a Virginia Red Lobster

The calico lobster dubbed 'Freckles.'
The calico lobster dubbed 'Freckles.' / Courtesy of Red Lobster

The odds of having a bright future as a lobster when you’re in the kitchen of a Red Lobster are not good. In fact, the mortality rate might be approaching 100 percent. But for one special lobster, things turned out a little differently.

A lobster variant—kind of like a collectible trading card, or a rare Pokémon—was discovered at a Red Lobster in Manassas, Virginia, last week. Known as a calico, the lobster has a traditional dark hue to its shell with yellow and orange coloring. Such lobsters are a 1-in-30-million rarity, in part because their flashy appearance makes them more susceptible to predators.

Rather than submerge it in a vat of boiling water, restaurant employees pardoned the crustacean and gave it a nickname: “Freckles.”

As Freckles loitered in a tank, preparations were made to rehome the lobster somewhere other than a customer’s plate. A call was made to the Akron Zoo, which referred the case to the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. Freckles was donated and, at last mention, was under quarantine before being placed with other rare lobsters.

Color abnormalities in lobsters pop up from time to time, ranging from blue to yellow to white. Another Red Lobster location in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, found a blue lobster in 2020, which they also donated.

The traditional red color identified with lobsters only presents itself after cooking. All their chromatophores, cells that provide pigmentation, are destroyed in the process except for the red ones.

There is one lobster even more rare than the calico. A chimerical lobster has blue and orange coloring divided straight down the middle, the likely result of a cellular split when the egg is fertilized. The chances of finding a chimerical lobster are 1 in 50 million, or about the same odds as a lobster getting out of a Red Lobster alive.

[h/t Food & Wine]