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19 April 2011, 12:09
Marine experts at an aquarium in Portsmouth are looking after an American lobster hauled up in the English Channel - thousands of miles from its natural home.
The rare Atlantic lobster was discovered in the pots of a local fisherman and taken to Portsmouth fish and shellfish merchants Viviers who realised its rarity and contacted staff at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Southsea.
American lobsters are much larger and more powerful than their European cousins and fisheries experts fear they may pose a potential threat to native stocks.
Blue Reef’s Lindsay Holloway said: “You can count the numbers of American lobsters reported in UK waters on the fingers of one hand and, when you consider the number of creatures caught each year, it’s a very unusual find.”
“Apparently this particular specimen was found inside a cuttlefish pot.
“He’s completely different from our native species with much larger claws and a generally larger body and thicker shell.
“No one is quite sure how he found his way into British waters. The most popular theories are that he may have been thrown overboard, discharged with a ship’s ballast or even managed to escape from the galley of a passing cruise liner.
“I have heard reports of another specimen being caught in the South West but they would appear to be isolated cases,” he added.
The heaviest recorded crustacean is an Atlantic lobster landed in 1977 in Novia Scotia, Canada and tipped the scales at just over 20kg.
Experts estimated that the animal was well over 50 years old and believe that some specimens may even live to be 100.
The record distance travelled under its own steam by a lobster is 225 miles.