Rare orange lobster on show in Padstow

Jaffa at Padstow Lobster HatcheryJaffa may sound like an unusual name for a lobster, but that is what staff at Padstow’s National Lobster Hatchery have named their star attraction.  Jaffa isn’t the victim of a cheap fake tan, neither is she a pre-cooked display.  Jaffa is a one in ten million ‘colour morph’.  Most of the lobsters caught around our shores are blue or a mottled calico colour, some can be light brown or very dark blue but very, very rarely are they are orange.

 

Ben Marshall, Senior Technician said “This is a very unusal specimen, It would be great to have a pair, so that we could breed them and use their babies as natural markers to indicate movements of juveniles when released.  Jaffa brings a zesty appeal to our visitor centre!”

 

Research and Development officer Dr Carly Daniels said There are various theories on why some lobsters are different colours, such as genetic differences, diet, or adaptation to their habitat.  A lobster may become paler if it lives in a light coloured sandy area, or darker if it lives in a deep wreck.  What a lobster feeds upon might also influence its colour.  If it feeds on highly pigmented foods such as mussels or crabs it might be dark, or if it feeds on fish it might become paler.  Colour morphs are different however, being a genetic variant; in general, colouration is due to several pigments found within the shell. The main pigment is called astaxanthin and the way it interacts with other proteins gives the range of colouration that you normally expect to see in a lobster.  We are unsure of why orange lobsters are orange before being cooked, but it might be that they simply lack this protein”.

 

Shellfish Express Ltd of Paignton donated the animal to the charity earlier in the year.  The stock enhancement, research and education charity released its last orange star ‘Thermidore’ back into the wild in 2010 after a couple of years residing at the charity and are pleased to have another one to assist the charity in its educational work.

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