15 pound lobster, dubbed “Larry,” rescued from Florida restaurant, is airlifted home to Maine

Catherine Davidson chows down on as many lobsters as she can in ten minutes during a crustacean eating contest in Portland Saturday June 30, 2012. The fourth annual Portland Lobster Festival was organized by the Falmouth Rotary and took place on the Maine State Pier. (BDN photo by Troy R. Bennett)

Catherine Davidson chows down on as many lobsters as she can in ten minutes during a crustacean eating contest in Portland Saturday June 30, 2012. The fourth annual Portland Lobster Festival was organized by the Falmouth Rotary and took place on the Maine State Pier. (BDN photo by Troy R. Bennett)

We here in Maine tend to take for granted our intimate and often scientific knowledge of the lobster. We know how big they’ve gotta be before you can keep them. We know what a shedder is. We’re very defensive about how to make a proper lobster roll (what kind of monster adds chopped celery to it?).

So it comes as no surprise that a Florida restaurant owner and his patrons were largely clueless when it came to a particularly large Maine lobster on the menu at the eatery. An ABC affiliate in Miami aired a story yesterday about a restaurant called Tin Fish in the Miami suburb of Sunrise, which somehow got their hands on a gigantic, 15-pound Maine lobster — despite the fact that lobster fishermen aren’t supposed to catch lobster longer than 5 inches, which this bug clearly was. Catching an oversized lobster can result in a $500 fine for the lobster fisher in question, so either this person didn’t get caught, or paid the fine anyway.

Anyway, the restaurant owner let local media know that he had a whopper of a lobster in his restaurant, and a regular patron decided to reserve the lobster for dinner one night. That’s when some local animal activists decided to step in and see if the restaurant would sell them the lobster — dubbed Larry, of course — so they could ship it back to Maine and return it to the sea. The restaurant owner agreed, and actually donated the bug to the activists, who created a special salt water-filled container for Larry and sent him back to Maine. He’s now at the Maine State Aquarium in Boothbay Harbor, where he’s being quarantined until staff decide whether or not Larry is healthy enough to be returned to the wild.

The whole thing is a little ridiculous — who would want to eat a 15 pound lobster? How would you cook it without over- or undercooking it (unless you strangely have experience cooking huge lobsters)? The restaurant owner claimed it had to be over 100 years old. While the lobster probably was pretty old, it is likely nowhere near that age. A 20-pound lobster caught last summer off the coast of Friendship was probably around 25 to 50 years old, so it’s unlikely this one is much older.

All this talk of Larry the Lobster reminded us at the BDN of this “Saturday Night Live” chestnut from the early 1980s, wherein another Larry the Lobster met a different fate — a very different fate.

Speaking of which: how much butter do you think you’d need to accompany a 15 pound lobster? I’d say you’d need at least two full sticks of butter. What do you think?

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.