Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lavender lobster lifted from sea

From the Southland Times:  Lavender lobster lifted from sea

A lavender crayfish, "sticking out like a sore thumb", gave a Bluff skipper and his crew a surprise yesterday.
Druce Nilsen, skipper of the Caroline, was fishing off Long Point, near Bluff, when crew member Mike Burt caught the unusual creature.
It was sticking out like a sore thumb among the crayfish catch, Mr Nilsen said. The crayfish had a pale purple shell with a cream underbelly and legs.
Mr Burt was delighted with his catch.
"I have been fishing for 25 years and have never caught anything like this before. It's very unusual, none of the crew have seen anything like it," he said.
At first the fishermen were not sure what species the creature was and thought it might have been an albino crayfish.
Auckland University associate professor of marine science Andrew Jeffs said the creature was unusual but it was not albino.
The creature was a common New Zealand species of rock lobster: the red or spiny rock lobster Jasus edwardsii, he said.
When he first saw its photo, he thought it could have been another species found in deep water.
"It looks like it has been feeding in deep water or an area where there isn't a lot of natural food colouring in its food," he said.
It was definitely not albino because that species had almost no colour and was a pale cream all over.
University of Otago associate professor of marine science Stephen Wing said it looked like what commercial fishermen referred to as a "run fish", which was quite light in colour, without the deep red or purple on the carapace.
"They are transient individuals that spend quite a bit of time on the sand moving along the coast and are the same species as Jasus edwardsii/red rock lobster . . . found on the reefs," he said.
In June last year a lavender lobster was caught by a fisherman in Te Anau. Its colour was linked to its diet.
Mr Nilsen said he would release the pale crayfish back into the sea where they had found it.


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