A blue lobster from the tank at the Kittery Point restaurant Pepperrell Cove is seen in this Seacoast Online photo before being released into the ocean. The restaurateurs asked people on Facebook what to do with the rare colored lobster, and followers urged the eatery to set him free. Credit: Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald

KITTERY POINT, Maine — When a blue lobster found its way into Pepperrell Cove’s tank, with the inevitable and dismal future of soon appearing lifeless, yet delicious, on a plate, the group of restaurateurs took to Facebook, asking the public if the rare crustacean should be set free.

And for the lobster, freedom rang.

Ultimately, the blue creature, caught on July 15 by lobsterman Dick Draper, was released back into Kittery Point waters off the Pepperrell Cove dock. The ceremonial release was done by 17-year-old Ben Joslin, a fry cook at the multi-restaurant establishment.

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It’s estimated the odds of finding a blue lobster are 1 in 2 million, though experts have admitted that is merely a guess. When Pepperrell Cove posted a photo of the lobster in Frisbee’s Wharf saltwater tank, which sits on the crushed oyster patio for public viewing, they asked, “Thinking we should set him free?”

The responses included, “Liberate the blue lobster,” “Set big blue free,” and “Yes set him free, and it will be a sign of luck and a blessing to Pepperrell Cove for sure.”

On the big day, “blue lob,” as referred to by Pepperrell Cove staffers, was a bit shell-shocked reentering his natural habitat, but he eventually made his way out to sea.

Pepperrell Cove chef Henry Ares said it was the first blue lobster he had ever seen, and at first, he didn’t even notice him.

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“We get crates of lobsters,” Ares said. “It was the people that noticed him.”

The lobster remained in the tank, which receives water directly from the ocean, for a few weeks. “We’d take him out so the kids could hold him,” Ares said. “We knew that people liked taking pictures so we didn’t cook him.”

While the ultimate consensus was to save the lobster, Ares said instead of giving him to a local science center or aquarium, they wanted him to return home.

“We had a lot of feedback from people in Facebook, saying, ‘Let him go,’ so I said, ‘Why not?’ They are very rare.”

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Seacoast Science Center senior aquarist Rob Royer said while blue lobsters are in fact considered rare, their orange or “calico” brothers and sisters are the most rare. These are estimated at 1 in 30 million.

The varying colors are caused by a genetic deformity, Royer said. A blue lobster for example, is lacking other pigments and the blue one happens to be expressed.

Royer said the Seacoast Science Center currently houses three blue lobsters, one of which they’ve had for approximately six years.

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