Thanks to the viral story of Cheddar, a rare lobster rescued from a Red Lobster shipment last month, the world is well-aware that orange lobsters exist in the wild. The bright orange crustaceans are said to be one-in-thirty-million, yet in the span of just a few weeks, two of these vibrant sea-dwellers have been discovered by Red Lobster restaurants alone.
How rare is an orange lobster?
In early July, the team at a Hollywood, Fla. Red Lobster instantly got to work saving the life of Cheddar, an orange lobster found in their daily shipment of live lobsters. The restaurant chain worked with Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach to study the lobster and give her a new home, where she could live protected from the elements and predators that plagued her in the sea.
Now, less than one month later, luck has struck again. The team at a Red Lobster in Meridian, Miss, has rescued yet another orange lobster, appropriately named Biscuit after the chain's iconic Cheddar Bay Biscuits ... just like Cheddar.
What causes a lobster to be orange?
Upon her discovery, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, located in Gatlinburg, Tenn. sent a team to the restaurant to pick Biscuit up. At the aquarium, she'll get acquainted with her new way of life — and will hopefully provide some insight into the sudden uptick of orange lobsters.
Jared Durrett, director of husbandry at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, shares it's possible orange lobsters are not quite as rare as animal scientists once believed them to be.
"Orange lobsters are uncommon but perhaps not as rare as we first thought," Durrett said in a press release about the discovery. "Lobsters obtain their color through the pigments they ingest in their diet. If these orange lobsters are being harvested from the same region, perhaps their localized diet contains a pigment that, when paired with the lobster's genetics, creates the orange coloration we are seeing."
In fact, these two lobsters, and a third orange lobster rescued from a grocery store by Ripley's Aquarium of Canada have all been found and saved from the steamer within the last year. Due to the back-to-back-to-back rescues, the team at Ripley's has been inspired to study the animals and better understand this anomaly.
An opportunity for research
According to Red Lobster, Cheddar and Biscuit were both caught in the same area, which could potentially support the theory that a localized diet is to blame for the sudden spike in orange lobsters. Red Lobster sees more than its fair share of lobsters each year, and is committed to helping to study these new findings.
Nicole Bott, the senior director of communications at Red Lobster, said the Red Lobster team is proud to be a part of discovering new answers about these special creatures. "On the rare occasion we receive a lobster like Biscuit, we have to ask why?" Bott shared. "We are hearing from our fishermen in the area where both Cheddar and Biscuit were caught that they are seeing a lot of orange lobsters this time of year. This seems to indicate the coloring is coming from a different food source."
"We're excited to support Ripley's research into this," she added, "and learn more about our changing lobster populations."
What's next for Biscuit?
Biscuit, a female lobster just like Cheddar, is currently adjusting to her new surroundings, but will be on display within the coming year at a Ripley's Aquarium location. Durrett shared the team at Ripley's Aquarium is thrilled by the opportunity to learn more about lobsters, thanks to these findings and their partnership with Red Lobster.
"We plan to dive deeper into this and study the reasons why this abnormality is occurring more often," he said. "Our partnership with Red Lobster will allow us to capture data from fishermen, which typically is not easy to come by due to confidentiality."
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