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Sacrifice of the Lobster

Every now and then, we hear of blue or sometimes yellow or other unusually colored lobsters being pulled from the deep. I found the juxtapositions on the Delish site interesting: a story about blue lobsters being saved from the cooking pot, amongst recipes for cooking lobsters to satisfy our culinary desires. We eat lobsters (well, I don't), but we also save lobsters. I was thinking, after coming across two different stories of unusual lobster finds, how we express our contradictory relationship with animals. Some of those expressions are sort of ritual acts that manifest outwards our confused emotions on a subconscious level.

Usually, when rare colored lobsters are found, like blue ones (yellow and multicolored lobsters have also been found caught) the lobsters are given to aquariums and escape being dinner. I'm glad of this fact of course but it is interesting that we humans do this. I think donating unusually colored lobsters is a type of rite that serves to acknowledge the sacrifices made by both lobster and human. The sacrifice of the lobster, surely, for the lobster has no say. Living its life in its own habitat one moment, caught, trapped in a murky brackish tank with claws taped shut the next, until it ends up on someone's dinner plate. Sacrifice for some humans, since lobster trapping is hard work, and when things go bad, the livelihoods of fisherman are affected.

Allowing a caught lobster, kidnapped from its home, to live in an aquarium is symbolic of giving gratitude. It'd be better -- certainly for the lobster -- if the blue or other wise colored lobster were released back into the ocean. (One of the lobsters mentioned in the Delish article will be returned to its home.) Instead, almost always, the lobster is given to an aquarium park of some kind. In captivity, the rare colored lobster is a symbol for others, reminding us of many things: our self- gratification, the ways we earn our livings, gratitude, and simply wonder at things as beautiful as a blue lobster.

Another recent lobster find concerns one found, not of unusual color, but of unusual size. A New Brunswick fisherman found a twenty-two pound lobster, estimated to be about forty years old, in his trap on June 6. Named "Tiny," by fisherman Troy Mitchell, the lobster's fate is a precarious one. Unlike blue lobsters who find homes in aquariums or are returned to the seas, Mitchell is selling Tiny:

Mitchell has put the lobster up for sale online in hopes someone might want to save Tiny, either to donate to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews, N.B. to display or to set him free.

He says his preference is to donate the proceeds to the local Cancer Society charity, instead of selling the lobster to the market within the next few days.

Mitchell says it's most likely a lobster of this size would end up being canned.

"I'd just hate to see it go to a cannery," he said.

And yet, Mitchell doesn't hate the idea enough to ensure Tiny doesn't get canned... Tiny's future depends, not on the man who caught him, but on who will buy him -- and for what purpose.

Most of us probably aren't thinking of these things on a conscious level, and probably not kids who go to the aquarium to enjoy looking at cool stuff like giant blue lobsters. But there is a gestalt in these offerings of colored and oversized lobsters that nonetheless operates around us while we go about our everyday lives.