Instead of heading into the boiling pot, a 132-year-old Leviathan lobster returned to the sea Friday, thanks to a Hempstead restaurant.
Last year, Peter’s Clam Bar in Island Park started its annual tradition of pardoning a lobster, with help from town officials, as a way to celebrate National Lobster Week, said Butch Yamali, 54, who took over the 75-year-old restaurant four years ago.
On Friday, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino pardoned the 22-pound lobster, affectionately known as “Louie,” and then, with Yamali, turned the lobster over to Hempstead Bay Constables.
They took the large crustacean by boat to the Atlantic Beach Reef, where they returned it to its natural habitat.
“We take our sea life very seriously,” said Santino during the news conference. “Three out of every four Americans say they enjoy a lobster dinner.”
Yamali said the lobsters in his restaurant, especially those that have been there a long time, have swelled up to massive sizes, which make them hard to cook and hard to consume.
Through some online research, he was able to estimate that Louie the Lobster is at least 132 years old.
“It’s about the rings and it’s about the weight,” Yamali said. “So figuring out both things, we figured him to be about that old.”
Louie’s size and age helped make him one of the restaurant’s “biggest celebrities,” according to Yamali.
“Some guy came up to me and was like, ‘I’ll give you $1,000 for this lobster,'” said Yamali, who declined the offer. “He’s been here too long. It’s like selling your pet. Could you sell your pet? You just can’t.”
Yamali said letting Louie go was the humane thing to do. “This lobster is something that should be saved,” Yamali said. “It’s not all about money sometimes.”
Rocky in Main was a bit heavier than Louie.
The biggest lobster ever caught in Maine, a 27-pounder (12.25 kg) nicknamed “Rocky” with claws tough enough to snap a man’s arm, was released back into the ocean on Thursday after being trapped in a shrimp net last week, marine officials said.
The 40-inch (one-meter) male crustacean, about the size of a 3-year-old child, was freed in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, said Elaine Jones, education director for the state’s Department of Marine Resources.
Zheng Lee Pan recently pulled in a tropical rock lobster that weighed in at a stunning 56 lbs, and he knew that he had a haul that could net him a pretty penny. The lobster’s species is panulirus ornatus, and the “ornatus” part could refer to the creature’s remarkably vibrant coloring. Tropical rock lobsters can grow to massive size, and they’re remarkable for their multicolored exoskeletons.