Most lobsters are brown, but about one in 30 million of the crustaceans are calico-colored
Freckles the lobster was kept in a fishtank with other lobsters at the restaurant until the Virginia Living Museum employees rescued him.
Late last month, workers at a Red Lobster Seafood Restaurant in Manassas, Virginia, found a spectacularly speckled crustacean in their usual shipment. Most lobsters are a muddy brown color, but this large male looked like its shell had been splatter-painted with bright orange.
Employees at the restaurant recognized the rarity of the lobster’s shell, named him Freckles and reached out to the Red Lobster support team to make a rescue plan, reports Alaa Elassar for CNN. The company then contacted the Akron Zoo in Ohio for advice because the zoo had taken in a blue lobster named Clawdia last year, per Mike Pomranz at Food & Wine.
The zoo helped the restaurant find a local rescue option: the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News on the Virginia Peninsula. The museum’s senior director of animal welfare and conservation Chris Crippen and aquarium curator Patrycja Lawryniuk picked up Freckles on April 29, the museum wrote on Facebook.
“Calico-colored lobsters like Freckles are so rare, it was almost unbelievable that we received one,” said a Red Lobster spokesperson to CNN. “We are so proud of our employees for recognizing that Freckles was so special—and for reaching out so we could make arrangements for rescue.”
As a calico lobster, Freckles is a one-in-30-million find. Calico lobsters aren’t quite as rare as all-white “ghost” lobsters, which make up about one-in-100-million lobsters. But it’s much rarer than blue lobsters, which make up about one in five million of the critters, according to the New England Aquarium.
Because close to 525 million lobsters are caught each summer in Maine alone, there are “plenty of opportunity for lobstermen” to snag an unusual catch, says University of Maine marine ecologist Robert Steneck to the Washington Post’s Paulina Firozi.