Huge lobster catch in Maine produces media blitz

Ricky Louis Felice Jr. holds up the 20-pound lobster from Gulf of Maine. Photo: Courtesy of Ricky Louis Felice Jr. via the Portland Press Herald
Ricky Louis Felice Jr. holds up the 20-pound lobster from Gulf of Maine. Photo: Courtesy of Ricky Louis Felice Jr. via the Portland Press Herald

A huge lobster caught and released in the Gulf of Maine by commercial fishermen in May generated quite a bit of attention Monday when one of the anglers decided to share a photo of it online at the urging of friends.

The lobster was 3-feet long, weighed an estimated 20 pounds, and created a media blitz across Maine and New England as reporters requested interviews with the angler, Ricky Louis Felice Jr., according to the Portland Press Herald.

Felice was a deckhand on the Big Dipper, a lobster boat out of Friendship, Maine, when the crew pulled up a crab trap with the monster lobster inside.

“He was huddled over in the corner [of the trap], all balled up,” Felice told the Portland Press Herald. “Lobsters are very territorial and I don’t think he liked the fact that there were five lobsters inside the trap with him.

“His whole body was inside the trap. He was the biggest lobster I’ve ever seen in my life.”

State law requires lobsters shorter than 3 1/4 inches and longer than 5 inches—measured from the eye sockets to the end of its carapace or back—be returned to the ocean, which is what the fishermen did.

Before they did, however, each of the fishermen took photos with the lobster, but Felice’s photo was the only one being widely shared on the Internet.

Though skipper Isaac Lash and sternman Levi Poland estimated the age of the lobster at 75 years old, Robert Steneck, a University of Maine professor of marine science, told the Press Herald “it’s probably more in the range of 25 to 50 years.”

Diane Cowan, executive director and senior scientist for The Lobster Conservancy, told the Bangor Daily News that it is not routine to see such a large lobster, but a few are caught each year.

“According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the record for the largest documented lobster goes to one caught off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1977,” the Press Herald wrote. “It weighed 44 pounds, 6 ounces and was estimated to be 100 years old.”

Though not that big and not that old, the lobster caught aboard the Big Dipper was nevertheless impressive. Give it a few more years and it might contend as a record.

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