CAMDEN — When Camden resident Dominic Gioia hauled lobster this weekend, he had no idea he would make history.
Gioia and his wife, Liz, were on their boat the M/V Lively Lady, which ports in Camden, when they hauled in a rare calico lobster.
The University of Maine’s Lobster Institute says lobstermen have a 1-in-30 million chance of hauling in a calico lobster, which have mottled orange and black shells.
For the past five years, the couple has operated Camden Harbor Cruises and use the M/V Lively Lady to provide lobster tours, lighthouse cruises and eco tours on the lobster boat.
The rare crustacean was discovered when the boat’s crew hauled in a lobster trap during a morning tour by Curtis Island Lighthouse on Saturday, June 22.
“We hauled the trap up, brought it on board, and I started to drive the boat to a area to look for seals while my deck hand, Annie James, was talking about the trap and taking some out to measure them while explaining the process,” Dominic Gioia recalled. “When I hauled the trap on board I didn’t notice anything unusual. I just noticed 10 or 15 lobsters, where most were to small to keep. Annie, on the other hand, knew there was something special in there right away.”
As his deck hand opened the trap, Dominic Gioia recalled her verbally admiring the colors of what would be the three-quarters of a pound calico lobster.
Gioia noted he knew exactly what he had as soon as he turned around and knew how big of a catch it was since he formerly lived in Portland, where one of his good friends caught a calico lobster that made national headlines in October 2018.
“I slowed down the boat and grabbed the lobster,” he said. “That’s when [I] explained to everyone that it was a Calico lobster.”
Earlier this year, in January, a calico lobster was discovered in Silver Spring, Maryland.
A calico lobster is caused by a genetic mutation, Dominic Gioia said, while noting he ultimately released the lobster after posing for photos.
“We have a special permit for the boat allowing us to keep several sea creatures in [our] touch tank for passengers to learn about, [but] undersized lobsters is not one of them,” he stated. “I may try to change that next year. That still didn’t stop me from trying to find him a new home before letting him go. I called the children’s museum in Rockland to see if they could keep him having seen small lobsters there before. Unfortunately [their] special license only allows one under sized lobster.”
Though he had the option to bring the lobster to the Maine State Aquarium in Boothbay Harbor, Dominic Gioia decided due to an incredibly busy schedule it was better to release the lobster, which was bestowed the nickname Spot Calico, to allow it to grow and be caught by another lucky lobsterman.
“I’m pretty confident that if he is caught again after he sheds and is of legal size that he would not be sold for a lobster dinner,” he stated. “[We] gave him a few words of encouragement. It was nice to see him free and in the wild again.”
Reach George Harvey at: firstname.lastname@example.org.