Thanks to a group of concerned animal activists, a 15-pound crustacean in Sunrise, Florida, named Larry the Lobster has been spared a sad fate, the Miami Herald reports. Originally reserved for a family’s restaurant dinner, the ancient sea creature was instead shipped to the Maine State Aquarium.
Larry was given his moniker post-rescue, and is named after SpongeBob SquarePants’ animated lobster lifeguard. The lobster became a local celebrity after Joe Melluso, the founder and owner of a seafood chain called Tin Fish, purchased the massive Maine critter from his seafood supplier. As a youth, Melluso had once caught a 26-pound lobster in New York’s Long Island Sound. Still, Melluso was skeptical that this one would tip the scales at 15 pounds until he saw it with his own eyes.
“You can pull in hundreds of thousands of pounds (of lobster) and never see a lobster this size,” Melluso told the Miami Herald.
Melluso bought the lobster, which he estimated could be anywhere from 105 to 110 years old, based on the common belief that one pound equals five to seven years of lobster life. (There’s no precise formula to calculate a lobster’s true age, although the Miami Herald points out that one study says it can be roughly determined by looking at growth bands in the eye or gastric mill, a gizzard used by crustaceans to digest food.)
Melluso showed off his prized catch to local news outlets, ABC News reports, boasting about its size and age. Experts dismissed his claims, saying the lobster was probably only between 60 and 80 years old. Still, the meaty crustacean caught the eyes of local seafood lovers, and a man purchased the creature from Melluso.
The lobster's buyer wanted to enjoy it at a family dinner, but a group of animal lovers had other plans: They caught wind of the lobster's fate via media reports, contacted environmental nonprofit iRescue, and raised $300 to buy the ancient crustacean and ship it back to its native Maine.
“If you’re going to live 110 years, you deserve to live and not be someone’s dinner,” one of the group effort’s key figures, a commercial real estate attorney named Brooke Estren, told the Miami Herald. (Estren reportedly coordinated the rescue and gave the lobster its name, “Larry.”)
The group's fundraising efforts turned out to be unnecessary: Melluso had a change of heart, and ended up donating the lobster to the animal crusaders. Last week, iRescue staff members packed Larry into a special saltwater container and shipped him back to Maine. There, the lucky lobster will remain under quarantine to protect other marine life until he’s determined to be in good health. It’s unclear whether the animal will be released into the ocean or kept at the aquarium (PETA is campaigning for the former, the Portland Press Herald reports), but either way, the old lobster is no longer in a fatal pinch.
[h/t Miami Herald]
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