Statistics were challenged this week as three bright orange lobsters were found at Price Chopper locations around the region.
The supposed one-in-10-million rarity suddenly became three in 10 million for supermarket workers as the colorful crustaceans were spotted among a delivery of the usually brown and green variety at the Guilderland, Middletown and Binghamton locations.
The genetic mutation that causes the orange, cooked-looking hue can actually create a variety of color changes — from blue, the least rare, to a calico mix, to albino, the rarest — with a one in 100 million chance of seeing one in a lifetime. The mutation doesn’t make the lobsters less edible, according to Robert Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.
Price Chopper announced its discovery Monday and according to a press release it issued, the incident is the first of its kind in three years after nearly 3 million pounds of lobster shipments to various Price Chopper supermarkets.
Lori Severino, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said this kind of occurrence is extremely rare but not impossible. “In the cases we’ve seen in the past, there are usually more than one in the same grouping. It’s a genetic anomaly, so it isn’t far-fetched to see a few in a large harvest.”
A report Monday by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. may challenge the one-in-10-million claim even further. A fish market in Nova Scotia is currently home to 35 orange lobsters and two other oddly colored specimens. They were caught elsewhere in Canada last month, according to the report.
In any event, the vibrant, fruit-colored additions to local lobster tanks were an exciting find and make for an interesting trip to the grocery store.
“Given the rarity of orange lobsters — one in 10 million — we’re feeling triply lucky to have received three in Sunday’s fresh delivery,” said Lee French, Price Chopper’s vice president of seafood merchandising.
For those interested in seeing these unique lobsters, shoppers won’t have to worry about them appearing on someone else’s dinner plate.
“We’ve decided to send these special lobsters to a nearby aquarium rather than sell them, which gives our customers the opportunity to share this rare glimpse with us,” French said.