What’s the Value of a Blue Lobster?

Imagine heading out for a hard day’s fishing and returning with a gem that stuns fishermen across the nation? That’s exactly what happened to Wayne Nickerson, a commercial lobsterman from Massachusetts, when he caught a very rare lobster off the coast of Cape Cod in August 2016. A two-pound bright blue lobster to be exact. 

Nickerson and his co-fishermen spotted the lobster in a wire trap and separated him from the others in the hope of placing him in a local aquarium. This was the second blue lobster caught by Nickerson; he caught the first one in 1990.

Key Takeaways

  • Blue lobsters are rare. Estimates by the University of Maine Lobster Institute put the likelihood of catching a blue lobster as one in 2 million.
  • There are other more rare lobsters such as the yellow lobster and the albino or crystal lobster.
  • There really is no way to value a blue lobster—most of them are donated to aquariums, although they have been seen on menus for $500+.

Earlier in the same year, a pair of Canadian fishermen were just as lucky when they reeled in two blue lobsters off the coast of Nova Scotia, the BBC reported.

Rare Blue Lobsters

Typically, lobsters caught off the Atlantic coast of North America tend to be an unattractive greeny-brown color. Once boiled, they turn orangey-pink. The two fishermen who caught two blue lobsters off the coast of Nova Scotia one after the other were destined for good fortune, according to fishing folklore.

So, just how rare are blue lobsters, and what are your chances of catching one for dinner? According to the University of Maine Lobster Institute, the blue color is caused by an abundance of a particular protein from a genetic defect. While the university has stated that only one blue lobster exists for every two million, research director, Dr. Robert Bayer, admits that that statistic is only a guess. According to him, "The chances of this happening nobody really knows," he says.

The iridescent blue coloring in blue lobsters is caused by an abundance of a particular protein from a genetic defect.

David Spiegelhalter is a professor for the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Spiegelhalter is not surprised that two blue lobsters were caught within three days of each other. His calculations agree with the likelihood that of the 200 million lobsters caught each year, 100 could be blue.

Other Rare Lobsters

According to Charlie Ellis of the UK National Lobster Hatchery in Cornwall, European blue lobsters are a duller color, not the iridescent blue seen in North American species. Ellis's opinion is that the probability of a lobster being bright blue may be as low as one in a few hundred thousand.

There are other rare lobsters. For, example, the number of yellow lobsters is estimated as one in 30 million, and albino or crystal lobsters are estimated to be one in 100 million.

Still, there are lobsters that are even rarer, according to the BBC. Yellow lobsters, for example, account for approximately one in 30 million, according to estimates from the Lobster Institute. In 2011, two fishermen from Dorset in the United Kingdom caught an albino or crystal lobster, and the odds of that occurring are thought to be one in 100 million.

How Much Do Blue Lobsters Cost?

Blue lobsters are perfectly suitable for consumption. They have been priced as high as $500 on eBay although the listing failed to attract a single bid, so it's safe to say the worth of blue lobsters is debatable.

Lobster experts also find it difficult to put a price tag on this beautiful creature ("There is no monetary value," says Bayer. When restaurant Per Se featured its blue lobster and wagyu menu, it was priced at $560. For the same amount that it would cost two people to dine on blue lobster, you can also buy a pair of rare Nike "Blue Lobster" sneakers for $699 to $1,499. 

Article Sources

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  1. BBC News. "How Rare Are Bright Blue Lobsters?" Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

  2. Maine Lobsterman's Community Alliance. "Lobster 1.5: Color." Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

  3. The Price Hike. "Per Se's $560 Blue Lobster & Wagyu Menu." Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

  4. National Geographic. "Why So Blue, Lobster?" Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

  5. eBay. "Nike SB Blue Lobster Sneakers for Men." Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.