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Rare orange lobster donated to Odysea Aquarium given a nickname -- meet 'Princess'

Orange lobster odysea.jpg
Posted at 5:48 PM, Nov 15, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Sassy, but also a princess.

That's how one of the animal care specialists at Odysea Aquarium at Arizona Boardwalk in Scottsdale described the rare orange American lobster that was supposed to be part of the menu at Nobu Scottsdale but was instead donated to the aquarium.

The lobster whose nickname is "Princess" — doesn't have an official name yet — and is not out on display in one of the aquarium's tanks just yet. She's still behind the scenes where animal specialists are learning her personality and caring for her, while also researching and designing her future habitat.

"She's become quite comfortable. She's gone through our quarantine to make sure she's happy and healthy, and now we're just making sure she's well taken care of while we research the best place to put her here at Odysea," said animal care specialist Paige Henley.

"She's quite a well-tamed lobster. She's very okay with being handled, which is great," Henley said.

The orange coloring is part of a genetic mutation or trait, similar to how some people have blue eyes or red hair, said Henley, adding that an orange lobster is a one-in-30-million phenomenon.

Since lobsters are bottom feeders and opportunistic hunters, having a bright orange shell does not allow them to blend in and could in turn make them a target for other prey.

"They're designed to blend into their environment, whether it's rock work or the sand," said David Peranteau, director of animal care and conservation at Odysea Aquarium. "Obviously being bright orange or bright blue or cotton candy, they would definitely be an advertisement to come eat me."

Odysea announced the orange lobster donation in September. On Monday, ABC15 was able to stop by to get our first look at the lobster in person and learn a little more about her and her exhibit plans.

Henley said the female lobster seems to like trout a lot. But, lobsters can also fancy "crabs, clams, mussels, starfish, other small fish," according to the University of Maine's Lobster Institute.

Most of the animal species at Odysea Aquarium tend to be from the Pacific and Maine lobster are from the Atlantic so Odysea's team is having to buy equipment and other supplies to create the ideal tank conditions for "Princess" to live in.

"These animals are true lobsters, which means they have those big pinchers on the ends. So we want to make sure that we put her in an environment where she's not in danger of being injured, or she can't injure any other animals. Our research so far has showed that most of the aquariums that have displayed the American lobsters have displayed them individually," said Peranteau.

Once the equipment is bought and the tank is set up, then it will take time to "mature" the tank, which refers to growing the proper bacteria and ecosystem for the lobster to survive, he said. As life is fragile, the team also has to make sure that she continues to thrive and survive.

Right now, there's no timeline for when "Princess" will be out on display, but it sounds like she will be part of the aquarium's cold water gallery, said Peranteau.