February 10, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

The University of New England (UNE) is thrilled to introduce “Banana” a rare yellow lobster. Banana was caught off the coast of Maine by lobsterman Marley Babb, who kindly donated her to UNE. The yellow color comes from a pigment in the lobster’s shell and the odds of catching one are about one in 30 million, according to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.

Banana arrived in February at the Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center (MSC) on the Biddeford Campus.

“After working Wednesday, Marley insisted on driving Banana all the way down from Tenant’s Harbor to drop her off,” commented Lindsay Forrette, M.S., lab coordinator and chemical hygiene officer in the School of Marine and Environmental Programs. “Banana is about a pound to a pound and a half and is settling in nicely here at the MSC.”

Babb first contacted the Maine Department of Marine Research (DMR). DMR’s Jessica Waller asked Markus Frederich, Ph.D., professor of Marine Sciences, whether UNE might be interested in housing the lobster. Waller and Frederich are working together on a lobster research project.

“UNE has cultivated strong connections with lobstermen and Maine DMR,” stated Charles Tilburg, Ph.D., director of the School of Marine and Environmental Programs. “It was through those connections that Markus learned about Banana and Lindsay was able to coordinate with Marley from there.”

The University of New England is sharing an $860,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and Hood College in Maryland to study the impact that a warming Gulf of Maine is having on lobster larvae and their success in growing to adulthood.

Ocean acidification is making their shells thiner and brittle, which effects behavior and sustainability.

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