'Miracle' Lobster To Return To Sea After Her Missing Limbs Grow Back
If Clawdia the lobster could talk, she'd probably say that the past few months have been a bit, well, unusual. However, after being rescued following a near-death experience that cost her half her limbs, she is once-again whole and ready to return home.
Crustacean specialists are calling it a "Christmas miracle."
The female lobster was found in a trap last summer by fishermen off the coast of Cornwall, England, her body bearing the signs of a nearly fatal encounter with a hungry predator. Yet despite missing four legs and a claw, she'd managed to survive long enough to lay hundreds of eggs, which she was still dutifully carrying on the underside of her shell.
Considering her condition, and the fact that she was an expectant mom, the fishermen decided to spare her the boiling-pot fate they had intended. Instead, they placed her into the hands of experts at the nearby National Lobster Hatchery, a facility that raises and releases lobsters to ensure the species' numbers remain strong in the wild.
"Clawdia produced about a thousand offspring, which is amazing given the circumstances," the hatchery's senior technician Ben Marshall told The Dodo. "But after we hatched her eggs, we didn't feel quite right about releasing her in that condition. So, we thought we'd wait to see what would happen if we kept her for a while."
Over the next four months, staff at the facility continued to care for Clawdia even though her work as a mother was finished. But their compassion and patience ultimately paid off. During her most recent molt, wherein she grows a new outer shell and sheds the old, the lobster's rescuers saw that something incredible had happened.
To everyone's surprise, Clawdia's missing limbs had grown back.
"To be clear, we know lobsters can do this when they molt. It's just very unusual to actually see," said Marshall. "When that happened, we knew she could be safely released back into the sea."
In a week or so, after they're sure that her new shell has hardened, Marshall and the team plan to say farewell to their favorite patient.
"Hopefully Clawdia's story will lead people to think of lobsters as more than just dinner. We hope she'll find a nice safe spot and live another 80 or 90 years. If she avoids all the pots, she'll be alright. But if not, she's already done more than her part to help her species," Marshall said.
"Lobsters each year might expect to have one young survive from each batch of eggs, so in a short time with us, she's produced as many juvenile lobsters as she would have done in 10 lifetimes."
Like many marine animals, lobsters are under threat from overfishing, which means the species can use all the replenishment it can get.
"With that kind of pressure on lobsters, it's important that we try to increase the number of young entering that population to try and help keep them going," said Marshall. "This protects the species, and also the livelihoods of the people who catch them."