The Ablest Catch

The Tail End of
Lobster Stories

Every year, the end of the summer spells relief
for lobsters all over (and under) the northern seas.

Not that they would tell you that themselves, mind you, but this has been a particularly trying year for these maritime bugs.
Despite your eventual oblivion to it, there were plenty of news about lobsters these past few months, and some of them had a truly out of the ordinary character to them.
Beyond the usual giant catch of the season, there was, for instance, a reported hoax, and a guy caught literally red-lobster with some in his pants, to name but a couple.
There were hardly any better fodders for the kind of copious conversations we’re used to have during the heat, and are quick to forget as soon as we’re back in the city.
By the way, lobsters are the kind of critters that for one reason or another, give the term upward mobility an extra layer of meaning.
For those at one end of the social spectrum, say, rusty fishermen of the early 20th century, lobsters were supposed to be discarded, along with every other type of seafood, shrimp, mussel and crab, out of pure disgust for their role as vultures of the sea.
Yet, for those on the opposite side of said spectrum, the rich and the affluent alike, those same red bones and their insides were and still are indispensable staples of pricey dishes, exquisitely seasoned to order.
Tastes change, not just across borders, but also across time. And that’s the only redundancy we’re allowed to commit on this post.
It went like this: in early August, a group of Buddhists went to Gloucester and purchased 534 lobsters from a wholesaler, to “liberate” them back into the sea. Far off the coast, they held a prayer ceremony, and dumped the crustaceans into the water, all in a deed for “good Karma.”
Unbeknownst to them, though, a group of fishermen sailed to the spot afterwards to fish the lobsters back, and resell them at the local markets. Or so it was reported.
What followed is still up to discussion, but apparently the small uproar and negative press the fishermen attracted smoked out a dock owner who confessed that he had created the false rumor on his blog about the re-capture and resale of the lobsters.
“It’s was a joke,” he said. No one laughed though. But the Buddhists probably forgave him and the fishermen, and counted their blessings; the whole episode was a big reprieve for the lobsters.

A reprieve indeed was the reward to an 18 pounder caught off the coast of Canada. As a big plus, it got its own private tank at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.
Lobsters can live almost as long as human beings, if not caught before, and as our species, grow accordingly. So to grow as large as this one did, it had to dodge many a fisherman’s net, stray anchor and even being eaten by even bigger seafarers.
Think about that when it stares back at you in your next visit to the aquarium. Nah, lobsters are notoriously hard to establish eye contact. As a matter of fact, at this size, they start to scare the bejusus of anyone who gets too close to them.
Maybe those early 20th century fishermen had a point.
A consideration that certainly didn’t cross the mind of a southern Mississippian would be thief, caught trying to steal shrimp, pork and a couple of live lobsters.
Then again, anyone who tries to stuff two giant bugs in the pockets of his cargo pants is not someone one would expect to give consideration to anything else but to run.
And run he did, right after throwing the pork package at his pursuers, and immediately before tripping and falling.
Even assuming that the lobsters were ‘handcuffed” with those wide rubber bands, in itself, an industry big enough to feed a small country on a regular basis, the whole attempt seems to have been driven by anything but careful consideration.
Of course, the thief was himself handcuffed and spent time in jail. The lobsters? Somebody else probably already ate them by now.

In early spring, we told you about a company in Maine that is manufacturing golf balls made out of lobster shells. Now comes a Taiwanese chef who makes miniature motorcycles with them.
As a form of recycling for the countless shells used by seafood restaurants, the idea makes sense and it has an undeniable artistic bend about it.
It’s also another spectacular kitschy object that may belong to that dubious category of things done when someone has too much time in their hands. Think prison inmates and what they do with an empty can of soda.
But the fact that such an endeavor has no noble provenance to speak of, it’s a fitting coda to this post. It comes full circle and in perfect symmetry with lobsters’ perceived humble origins.

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