Chef Saves 100-Year-Old Lobster Moments Before Dinner

Sometimes, a lobster comes along who reminds us of more than just dinner.

Certainly, Joe Melluso, who owns a South Florida seafood chain, has seen a lot of the eating kind. But there was something about a lobster he met on Monday that made him pause to take a picture.

Maybe it was the creature's girth. He reportedly tipped the scales at a whopping 15 pounds.

"You can pull in hundreds of thousands of pounds (of lobster) and never see a lobster this size," Melluso told the Miami Herald.

Maybe it was because the lobster seemed seasoned already. In history. The people who bought the animal pegged his age at around 110 years.

But Melluso was still bent on serving up the mammoth lobster at his Tin Fish Restaurant in Sunrise.

"We could feel bad about it, but when I saw him today I figured that I'd rather be the guy to buy him and have him in my restaurant than someone else," he told Local 10 News.

The picture of Melluso and the leviathan reached more than just potential patrons. A group of local business owners saw a story about the animal on Facebook and came up with a rescue plan.

The friends offered to buy the lobster's freedom for $300.

Even a seasoned seafood purveyor like Melluso admits to getting a little emotional about it all.

"My whole life's been about fish and seafood," Melluso told the Herald. "I'm happiest when I have a knife in my hand and fish filleted."

"At first, when I heard there were organizations involved, I was like, 'Ah, that's so silly,'" he added. "Then, I was like, 'They're looking to protect and serve the species in a responsible way. I should be thinking like that.'"

And so, on Wednesday, the lobster, named Larry, left the restaurant. Not in a take-out bag. But in a towel drenched in saltwater. And very much alive. He was packed and shipped to the Maine State Aquarium, where he could spend his retirement safe from prying forks. And at the aquarium, at least, he wouldn't face the possibility of being recaptured.

We've seen stunning acts of compassion for crustaceans in the past. In fact, Larry isn't even the first giant lobster to bear the name - and be spared the pot.

But this old man of the sea may have come closest to ending his century-long existence in a red-hot instant. In fact, Larry's exodus came in the nick of time. Just after he had left the restaurant, a group of diners arrived, according to the Herald, demanding to dig into the celebrity crustacean.

But Larry was already the one who got away.