Monday, January 17, 2022

Virginia Living Museum welcomes rare lobster

“Freckles,” a rare calico lobster, has found his home at the Virginia Living Museum (Courtesy of Virginia Living Museum

NEWPORT NEWS — There’s a new member of the Virginia Living Museum’s (VLM) animal family. Meet: “Freckles.”

A Manassas, Va. Red Lobster location reached out to members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) after discovering a rare, spotted lobster in its tank. The employees felt that this unique crustacean needed a more appropriate home than the seafood restaurant.

“Freckles” in the tank at a Manassas, Va. Red Lobster. He was later retrieved by the Virginia Living Museum, where he now takes up residence. (Courtesy of the Virginia Living Museum)

“Freckles” is a Calico Lobster, featuring orange and black speckled patterning on his shell. According to the VLM, this unique coloring and pattern only happens in 1 in every 30 million lobsters worldwide.

When the call went out to AZA members, the VLM’s senior director of animal welfare and conservation, Chris Crippen, raised his hand to take in the wayward rarity.

“We take great pride in our conservation efforts and strive to create strong partnerships in our community,” said Crippen. “We see this as an opportunity to share nature’s anomaly with guests, as well as continue important education about sustainable seafood practices and significant conservation efforts of the American lobster fishery.”

VLM’s Chris Crippen and Patrycja Lawryniuk, transferring “Freckles” (Courtesy of the Virginia Living Museum)

On Thursday, April 29, both Crippen and the VLM’s Aquarium Curator Patrycha Lawryniuk, traveled to Manassas to bring “Freckles” to his new home. After evaluating the lobster’s health, he was transported to Newport News. Once the lobster has completed a period of evaluation, “Freckles” will take up residence in the museum’s Chesapeake Bay Gallery.

The discovery of “Freckles” comes soon after another calico lobster was found this past February in the tank of a Hannaford Supermarket in China, Maine. The store manager drove the lobster to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Bar Harbor. It now lives in a saltwater aquarium where it is part of public exhibits and participates in virtual learning.

The VLM, located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd. in Newport News, and Red Lobster are partners in the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, which has a mission to educating the public in choosing sustainable seafood in order to maintain healthier oceans for now and into the future.

To learn more about the Virginia Living Museum’s animals or find its hours of operation and admission costs, visit its website by clicking here.

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