Fisherman finds a rare 1-in-100-million "cotton candy"-colored lobster

Maine fisherman Bill Coppersmith recently made a one-in-one-hundred-million catch: a cotton candy-colored lobster, whom he affectionately named Haddie after his grand daughter. Rather than consuming this incredibly rare delicacy, cracking through its armored carapace and slathering its sweet, sweet meat in a cavalcade of butter, Coppersmith has sent the crustacean off to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire to live out the rest of its days. I don't know which sounds worse: being boiled alive and eaten, or living out the rest of my days in New Hampshire.

To get a better idea of Haddie's true rareness, a bright orange lobster was recently found at a grocery store in Ontario — and even that one was only a 1-in-30-million find. Even a half-orange-half-black "Halloween" lobster is supposedly still more common than a cotton candy one, at a 1-in-50-million find.

Of course, according to Smithsonian Magazine, no actually knows how many of these speckled pinkish-blue lobsters there are in the world; that 1-in-100-million measurement is based on an estimate, since they're only reported to be found every three or four years or so (although a Scottish fisherman recently caught a similarly-rare all-blue lobster). Smithsonian also attempts to explain the cause of the coloration, which is kind of interesting:

The reason for Haddie's special shell is likely due to an inherited genetic mutation or her diet. Lobsters usually have three or four different pigments—like red, blue and yellow—that layer together to produce the lobster's dark brown tone. Their color comes from a pigment molecule called astaxanthin, which binds to other proteins, according to Nicoletta Lanese for Live Science. Depending on those bonds, the shell reflects different wavelengths of light that we see as color. That's why lobsters only turn red after cooking denatures proteins in their shells. Some living lobsters naturally have more or less of a given pigment, which can produce an off-color critter. Haddie appears to be missing all pigments except blue, which leaves her with a cotton-candy-colored hue.

Haddie's bizarre coloration could also be due to a reliance on a food source that causes unusually low astaxanthin levels. Like flamingos, lobsters incorporate pigments from their diet into their coloration, and missing a key food source could fade their color. If the cause of Haddie's unusual color is her diet, eating pigment-rich foods could change her color back to "normal" over time, according to National Geographic's Maya Wei-Haas.

Rare 'Cotton Candy' Blue Lobster Is a 1-in-100 Million Catch [Corryn Wetzel / Smithsonian Magazine]

Haddie, a cotton-candy colored lobster, is one in a 100 million, and a budding star [NPR Weekend Edition]