Top 8 Rarest Lobster Colors: Ranked by Rarity

Rarest lobster colors

The lobsters we know of are usually reddish and come served on a dinner plate, but have you heard about rare lobster colors? In this article, you’ll see some amazing lobsters that look nothing like what you’re used to. 

Picture a lobster that’s as white as snow or one that looks like cotton candy. Here, you’ll know all about these unique lobsters, from what they look like to how often they come by.

You’ll also appreciate their looks through pictures and learn all about some fascinating real-life stories about them. Let’s dive in and check out the rarest lobster colors!

Summary of the Rarest Lobster Colors

RankLobster ColorRarity
1Albino1 in 100 million
2Cotton Candy1 in 100 million
3Split-colored1 in 50 million to 1 in 100 million
4Calico1 in 30 million
5Orange1 in 30 million
6Yellow1 in 30 million
7Red1 in 10 million
8Blue1 in 2 million

Top 8 Rarest Lobster Colors

Lobsters in the wild usually have a dark blue-green or brown color, making it easier to hide from predators like fish and seals. 

The ones with odd colors stand out and get eaten more often, which is likely one reason they’re rare. Here, we’ll check out the top eight rarest lobster colors and learn all about them. 

Fun Fact: Did you know scientists use a special method called population genetics to determine how rare different colored lobsters are? 

They collect data from lobsters caught in the wild and use biostatistics, a combination of stats and biology, to analyze it. This helps them estimate how often lobsters with unique colors show up in the ocean.

1. Albino Lobster (1 in 100 million)

Albino lobster

Popping up only once in every 100 million, the albino lobster, also called white or crystal lobster, ranks as the rarest lobster color. 

They’re all white because of a special condition called leucism, which significantly reduces the pigment on their shells. This means they stay white all the time, even after cooking, which is pretty unusual. 

Albino lobsters are so rare that whenever one is found, it often makes the news. For example, a white lobster named “Victoria” was caught near Clogherhead, and it was talked about a lot​​. 

When people catch these white lobsters, they usually don’t end up on a dinner plate. Instead, they might go to an aquarium to help scientists learn or get put back in the ocean to keep their rare genes out there. 

Albino lobsters live in the same places as other lobsters, hiding in rocky spots on the ocean floor all across the Atlantic. 

But because they don’t blend in, they’re more likely to get eaten by predators, which makes them even rarer.

2. Cotton Candy Lobster (1 in 100 million)

Cotton candy lobster
Image credit: barharborlobsterpound / Instagram

The cotton candy lobster has a blue and pink shell that looks almost magical. Finding one is about as rare as finding an albino lobster, making it a one-in-a-hundred-million find.

Scientists think that this unique color could be due to a genetic variation or dietary factors affecting the lobster’s pigment, known as astaxanthin. However, the exact cause of its striking appearance remains a mystery.

One notable catch was made by lobsterman Bill Coppersmith in Casco Bay. He discovered a lobster with this rare cotton candy coloration and named it “Haddie” after his granddaughter.

Meanwhile, a lobsterman from Canada named Robin Russell also caught a cotton candy lobster near Grand Manan Island. He gave it to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, where they named the lobster “Lucky.” 

According to an article by National Geographic, if Lucky’s special colors come from what it eats, then changing its diet might change its color the next time it sheds its shell. 

But if the colors are because of the lobster’s genes, then it will keep its unique look.

Watch this video to see Lucky the cotton candy lobster:

Ultra-Rare Lobster Looks Like Blue Cotton Candy | Nat Geo Wild

3. Split-colored Lobster (1 in 50 million to 1 in 100 million)

Split colored lobster

The split-colored lobster is another rare sea creature that looks like it’s split in two, with each half being a different color. Imagine a lobster that’s blue on one side and orange on the other — that’s pretty much what they look like.

Scientists believe that this rare coloration may be the result of a genetic mutation or a cellular split occurring at the very early stages of the lobster’s egg development. 

This mutation affects the distribution of pigments in the lobster’s shell, leading to the half-and-half coloration. This occurs so rarely that you might only find a split-colored lobster among 50 to 100 million lobsters!

One of the most famous split-colored lobsters, named “Bowie,” took the internet by storm, garnering a following of 2.7 million on TikTok.

Bowie was discovered by Jacob Knowles, a Maine lobsterman, who shared his unique find with the world through social media. 

Knowles first kept Bowie in a tank because he wanted to see if this half-and-half-colored lobster could reproduce by itself.

But when he saw that Bowie didn’t seem happy being in a tank, Knowles decided it was best to let him go back to the ocean, hoping Bowie would thrive in his natural habitat. 

Watch this video of Bowie’s final moments before being released into the wild:

Bowie the Lobster (The final chapter)

Pro Tip: If you want to see a split-colored lobster in real life, you can visit the Seacoast Science Center in New Hampshire. It has on display a very rare lobster that is half blue and half orange! 

4. Calico Lobster (1 in 30 million)

Calico lobster
Image credit: jeeptography_adventures / Instagram

The next rare lobster color is the calico lobster, sporting cool black and orange spots. Their unique appearance is a result of a complex genetics and diet affecting their pigment, astaxanthin. 

In most lobsters, astaxanthin binds with a protein called crustacyanin, giving them a brownish color. However, in calico lobsters, this pigment binds with different proteins, giving them a unique look.

The odds of finding a calico lobster are quite low, roughly 1 in 30 million.

There’s a neat story about a calico lobster named “Freckles,” who somehow landed in a Red Lobster restaurant in Virginia. Luckily for Freckles, he didn’t end up as someone’s meal.

The staff at Red Lobster noticed just how special Freckles was and decided to do something about it. So, they reached out and made sure Freckles found a new home at the Virginia Living Museum.

Fun Fact: The spots on a Calico lobster are larger than its brain. A lobster’s brain is really tiny, even smaller than the point of a pencil! They have about 100,000 neurons, which is a lot less than the 100 billion neurons in a human brain.

5. Orange Lobster (1 in 30 million)

Orange lobster

The orange lobster is another rare find in the world of crustaceans, appearing only once in every 30 million. These lobsters sport a vivid orange color covering their bodies from their abdomen to their claws.

Their remarkable color is the result of genetic variations affecting the lobster’s shell color.

A notable encounter with an orange lobster caught in Casco Bay, Maine, was made by researchers at the University of New England.

This particular orange lobster, missing a claw, also provided a unique opportunity for scientific study. Not only does it have a unique color, but scientists can observe first-hand how it regenerates its claws.

Meanwhile, there are talks about orange lobsters not being as rare as we thought they were. According to expert Bill Murphy, the rarity of orange lobsters might have been overestimated. 

Initially thought to be a one in 30 million occurrence, some now argue they could be as common as one in 10 million. 

Fun Fact: There is a shoe named after the orange lobster. It’s called the Nike SB Dunk Low Concepts Orange Lobster. It was released in December of 2022 and named after the iconic lobster, mimicking its orange color.

6. Yellow Lobster (1 in 30 million)

Yellow lobster

Next up on our list is the yellow lobster, also known as the “golden lobster.” These lobsters, sporting their vibrant yellow shells, are a stunning rarity in the marine world

Their unique coloration is the result of a genetic mutation affecting their shells. The mutation impacts the proteins that usually give lobsters a darker, muddy brown hue, allowing the yellow or golden color to dominate instead​​​​.

Like other lobsters with rare colors, yellow lobsters are spared from the dinner table whenever they’re caught.

A couple of years back, I came across a story about a yellow lobster named “Banana” that was given to the University of New England’s Marine Science Center for study.

Back then, I really liked yellow fish and had some in my own fish tank. What caught my interest was how rare yellow lobsters are. So I did a bit of digging on why many fish show yellow coloration but not a lot of lobsters do.

Apparently, this is because of the carotenoids fish get from their usual diet. Fish are more receptive to these carotenoids, while lobsters aren’t. Aside from this, genetic differences between fish and lobsters play a role.

Fun Fact: The University of New England (UNE) has a collection of rare-colored lobsters, including blue, yellow, calico, and split-colored. 

They study these rare lobster colors and explore the genetic reasons behind their unique makeup. They practice non-invasive testing methods to ensure the well-being of the lobsters during the study.

Just recently, Banana welcomed a new flatmate — a bright orange lobster caught in Casco Bay, Maine (the one we mentioned previously). 

7. Red Lobster (1 in 10 million)

Red lobster
Image credit: scubacanarias / Instagram

The red lobster, sporting a vivid red hue, is another rarity in the world of crustaceans. With an occurrence rate of 1 in 10 million, they are a pretty elusive group.

The striking color of red lobsters is not the result of a cooking process, which turns all lobsters red (except for albinos) due to a pigment called astaxanthin. 

Instead, these red lobsters have a genetic anomaly that causes their shells to be red starting from a young age. Given their standout appearance, red lobsters caught in the wild are the subject of various stories and news reports. 

8. Blue Lobster (1 in 2 million)

Blue lobster

Wrapping up our list of the rarest lobster colors is the blue lobster, an extraordinary find that occurs once in every two million. 

This lobster’s striking blue hue is the result of a unique genetic mutation, which leads to an overproduction of a specific protein.

One notable sighting of a blue lobster happened in 2020 when employees at a Red Lobster in Ohio stumbled upon one. Rather than preparing it for a meal, they chose to send it to the Akron Zoo, ensuring it was well looked after.

Interestingly, some people think blue lobsters taste better than regular ones, but that’s probably just a trick to drive up the price or sell more lobsters.

In a recent sighting, a particularly vibrant blue lobster was found in Portland Harbor in December 2023, earning the nickname “jewel” for its striking color.

For a closer look at a blue lobster that made headlines, watch this video:

Blue lobster found in Portland Harbor a rare beauty

Fun Fact: Speaking of blue, did you know that lobster blood is blue? This is due to the copper present within it, which is responsible for carrying oxygen.

The Science of These Rare Lobster Colors

Rare color lobster held by a hand
Image credit: jonroemer_ / Instagram

Occasionally, genetic mutations occur, resulting in lobsters with unique colors, such as blue, yellow, calico, and even white.

Let’s review the science behind how these rare lobster colors come about:

  • Albino Lobster: Albino lobsters lack the pigment astaxanthin due to a genetic mutation affecting the deposition of this pigment. This mutation leads to an absence of color, making their shells white or translucent. This condition, known as leucism in other species, came from mutations in genes responsible for pigment synthesis or transport.
  • Cotton Candy Lobster: Cotton candy lobsters are characterized by pastel shades of pink, blue, and purple. Their color is due to mutations in genes that regulate pigment synthesis. These mutations affect the proteins involved in the transport and binding of astaxanthin and other pigments, resulting in an odd blend of colors.
  • Split-Colored Lobster: Split-colored lobsters display bilateral gynandromorphism, where one half of the body looks different from the other. This rare condition is due to a genetic mutation or chromosomal anomaly during early embryonic development.
  • Calico Lobster: The mottled orange and black pattern of calico lobsters came from mutations that affect the distribution and concentration of pigments. These mutations affect genes responsible for the regulation of chromatophores.
  • Orange Lobster: Orange lobsters have too much astaxanthin that doesn’t stick to proteins as it normally should, making them orange all over. This is because of a genetic mutation that stops the usual color-binding process. 
  • Yellow Lobster: The yellow coloration in lobsters is due to a mutation that affects the balance of pigment synthesis. This likely happens due to a reduction in the production of blue and red pigments or an increased concentration of yellow pigments.
  • Red Lobster: Red lobsters show off their natural astaxanthin pigment without the usual greenish-brown camouflage. This is possibly due to a malfunction of the crustacyanin protein, which normally binds astaxanthin to create a darker shell color. 
  • Blue Lobster: Blue lobsters owe their color to a genetic variation that results in an overproduction or altered function of a specific protein that interacts with astaxanthin differently than crustacyanin does. This interaction changes the optical properties of the shell, reflecting blue light and giving the lobster its characteristic blue color.

As research continues, we may uncover even more about the colorful world of lobsters and the secrets they hold beneath their shells. We may even discover new unheard-of lobster colors!

Fun Fact: Aside from their color, lobsters also have an intriguing lifespan. In fact, many people believe they are immortal and can live forever. To uncover the truth about the life expectancy of lobsters, read this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lobster with a rare color
Image credit: sallysellssouthflorida / Instagram

What Is the Rarest Lobster Color?

The rarest lobster color is albino, also known as a “crystal” or “ghost” lobster. These lobsters lack the pigment astaxanthin, making them appear white or translucent. Albino lobsters only appear once in every 100 million.

How Rare Is a Blue Lobster?

A blue lobster is very rare, with the odds of finding one being about 1 in 2 million. This unique color comes from a genetic variation that affects the way its shell absorbs and reflects light.

How Rare Is a Purple Lobster?

Purple lobsters are super rare, and there’s not much info on how often they show up. Most of the time, you hardly ever hear about someone finding a purple lobster.

One notable exception is Fig, a baby lobster with a purple color. Fig was given to the Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center by the University of New England. Other than Fig, sightings of actual “purple lobsters” are scarce.

Fun Fact: Back in 2019, a picture of what looked like a purple lobster caught in Maine got famous online. It was all over a Facebook page called “All Things Lobstering,” and lots of people were talking about it.

But there’s a twist. According to a report by Fox 35 Orlando, that famous purple lobster picture was actually photoshopped, so the lobster wasn’t really purple.

How Rare Is a Multi-Colored Lobster?

Multi-colored lobsters, such as those with two distinct colors split down the middle (split-colored lobsters), are incredibly rare, with chances of finding one estimated at 1 in 50 million to 1 in 100 million.

So, what do you think about these fascinating colors? Share with us your thoughts and ideas about these rarest lobster colors by leaving a comment below!

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