Our friends over at The National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow have recently received a somewhat unconventional gift from us here at The Cornish Fishmonger. The pioneering conservation, research and education charity, has welcomed a captivating creature from the deep – a colossal crustacean – to its Visitor Centre for tourists and local residents to meet and marvel at during next week’s half-term.
One of our fisherman, John Hayes, caught a giant lobster, weighing in at 9.8lb and almost 3ft long off the coast of Portscatho. We decided to hand the lobster over to The National Lobster Hatchery as finding them that large is extremely rare due to the fact that they are usually caught before growing to such a size. Making sure there is a steady population of adult lobsters in Cornish waters in order to ensure sustainability is a huge part of what the NLH work towards, so it seemed only right that this giant crustacean be given to them.
The hatchery is now attempting to determine the age of the lobster, which is “notoriously difficult, especially towards the older and larger end of the scale, since they are much rarer,” explains Adam Bates, a researcher at the NLH. “A cautious estimate would place him at 40 to 50 years old, but it is not inconceivable that he is well into his 80s. As a hatchling of the 1930s, he could therefore have experienced World War II, or been one of the first to see Mickey Mouse at the cinema! It’s amazing to think how long he has survived and thrived in the ocean.”
Now it has become a notable resident of the hatchery, it seems only right that he is given a name!
“Visitors to the Hatchery during half-term week will be given the special job of coming up with a suitable name for this significant sea-creature, who is currently eating us out of house and home,” explains new Operations Manager, Trevor Broome. “At this rate, we will be launching a campaign to fund his appetite for mussels! After half-term, we will review the contents of the suggestion box and award a prize for the most imaginative.”
Rearing lobsters in hatchery culture systems from larvae that are naturally hatched by egg-bearing females and raising them to a juvenile stage of development, the NLH then releases them back into the wild.
“Our research shows that older female lobsters yield more eggs that are of better quality, so more of their eggs are likely to survive to adulthood both in the hatchery and their natural habitat,” explains NLH General Manager, Dominic Boothroyd. “We are grateful to Wing of St Mawes for donating this majestic male of the species to observe and learn from before we release him back into Cornish waters this summer.” We're always delighted to help towards preserving our oceans and its inhabitants in any way possible, and here's hoping this spectacular shellfish will live on for many more years - with a new name!
To find out about opening times at the National Lobster Hatchery during half-term, please visit nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk/visitor-centre/