When most people envision a lobster, an image of a gray, brown or greenish crustacean comes to mind. While these are the most common types of lobsters, there are several others that come in a rainbow of other colors. Most of these, however, are very uncommon, and the odds of seeing one in the wild can be pretty rare.

Yet, in recent years it seems more and more reports have been popping up in the news about the brilliantly colored lobsters that are being found in the nets of fishermen. Some of the stories of how they have been discovered are pretty remarkable.

American Lobster
Credit: Cliff (cliff1066™ on Flickr)/CC by 2.0

Top Rarest Colors of American Lobsters

The Lobster Institute at The University of Maine describes itself on its Facebook page as "a source of information about all things lobster". Established in 1987, the organization conducts research and works with the lobster industry to help sustain it. The agency has written an ebook on the subject of lobster colors and its statistics are highly cited in other stories and resources about these crustaceans. 

Counting from least rare to most rare, here are the most unusually colored lobsters that can be found off North American Eastern shores.

6. Blue

Blue lobsters are brilliantly colored and are considered to be rare, about one in two million of them found in the wild will be this shade. Experts say this coloration is caused by a genetic defect - this defect causes a specific protein in the crustacean to give it the bluish tone. Yet, of all the rarities, when considering the stats of the next few rare colors of lobsters, perhaps a brilliant blue one won't seem to be so rare at all (when you consider the entire population though, a blue lobster really is rare - plus aren't they so pretty?)

Blue Lobster
Credit: Steven G. Johnson and donated to Wikipedia under GFDL and CC-by-SA

Blue lobsters are usually a bright shade of blue. While rare, they are no where near as rare as some other types of lobsters.

 5. Orange or Red

You might envision an ordinary lobster as orange, and there may even be traces of red or orange in its claws or body, but the reddish-orange hue is typically the shade one turns after it is cooked. However, did you know some of them are born this way? Although, finding live naturally colored orange and red lobsters are pretty rare.

Experts estimate you would have about a one in 10 million chance of spotting one in the wild. However, orange/red colored ones are also not the rarest type to be found - not by a long shot.

[ Fun fact: Despite their rarity, in June 2012 a Massachusetts restaurant received six orange lobsters in one shipment - at first the owners thought cooked were mixed in with the live ones. Interestingly enough, that was not the case. These six were caught off the Magdalen Islands in Maine. ]

4. Yellow

Yellow lobsters are definitely considered to be a rarity. According to experts, you would have approximately a one in 30 million chance of spotting one in the ocean. In recent years, a few yellow critters have been caught in the Northeastern Atlantic coast. One of the more recent stories I could find was in June 2014 and caught by a fisherman in Waterford, Connecticut.  

Although, in July 2014 the media reported a yellow one was found mixed in with a batch sent to a Florida supermarket. A couple of customers, along with help from the grocery store's employees, saved the rare critter. After actively searching to find "Libbie" (short for liberation) a new home, the rare lobster eventually ended up at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire.

Yellow Lobster
Credit: Steven G. Johnson and donated to Wikipedia under GFDL and CC-by-SA

3. Calico

Calico lobsters are next on the list of rarest color of this species of crustaceans, aligning with the same odds as finding a yellow one. The chances of finding a calico lobster (described as having "mottled" orange and black shells) is also one in 30 million. Yet in October 2014, a Maine man caught a calico lobster, not once but twice! Yep, his wife - a math teacher - secretly let the lobster go after it spent some time in a tank at a school she works at.

What's amazing is it ended up in her husband's net again just a few days later. Once the crustacean was once in his web, the man recognized it due to its color and its claw. He called up his wife and asked where the critter was and she had to 'fess up to letting it go. 

According to the article published by USA Today, "The math teacher estimated the odds of her husband catching the same rare lobster twice at 1 in 900 million."

Article accompanying this video http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/08/01/rare-calico-lobsters-oceans-maine-animals-science-oceanarium/

2. Split

Even rarer than the orange, blue, yellow or calico lobster is what experts call a "split" colored lobster. These critters have one half of the body as orange, the other brown. Even experts have only seen this one a handful of times.  The chances of seeing a split colored lobster in the wild are placed at one in 50 million.

1. Albino

Rarest of the rare where lobsters are concerned is the albino lobster. A bright whitish color also often referred to as a "crystal" lobster, the odds of seeing an albino live in the wild is estimated to be about one in 100 million.  Another one that even the experts rarely have seen.

[ Fun fact: Unlike all of the other colored types of lobsters, the albino ones do not turn reddish when they are cooked. ]

White (Albino) Lobster
Credit: By Nilfanion (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A white lobster. Many other photos show them as being more translucent and you can see their flesh color.

Finding rare colored lobsters is an unusual occurrence, but oddly seems to be happening more and more in recent years. If you plug in different colors of rare lobsters into a search engine, you will see several instances in the news of unusually colored lobsters in recent years. Most of the ones making the news reports have usually occurred off the Northeast United States or Eastern Canadian shores.  Far as I can tell, the majority of these appear to have been caught in Maine.

[ One last fun fact: The Guinness Book of World Records record holder is a 44-pound ((20-kg) lobster caught in Nova Scotia in 1977. ]

Related reading: Curious about rare cats too? Did you know a Janus cat has two faces?