By Donald Wittkowski
Move over, Elvis.
Pretty soon you’ll be sharing the tank – and the spotlight – with another blue lobster taking up residence at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden.
The aquarium is sending two biologists to Sea Isle City on Tuesday to pick up a rare blue lobster plucked from the ocean last week off the New Jersey coast.
Weighing about 1.5 pounds, the brilliant blue crustacean was caught by the crew of the “Two Dukes,” a commercial lobster boat based in Sea Isle and owned by Eric Burcaw Sr.
Burcaw hoped to save the lobster by finding it a new home in a major aquarium. On Monday, he learned that Adventure Aquarium was willing to accept it and would put it on display with another blue lobster, named Elvis, that is one of its star attractions.
“This is good. They can bill this as, ‘The new addition to the lobster family … the second blue lobster,’” said Burcaw, sounding more like a pitchman than a commercial fisherman.
Considering the fame that Elvis has garnered at the Adventure Aquarium, the blue lobster from Sea Isle may indeed generate its own headlines once it arrives in Camden. Elvis has already been featured on NBC’s “Today” show, among other notable public appearances.
“We are very lucky to have a blue lobster,” said Deanna Sabec, communications manager for Adventure Aquarium.
Now, Adventure Aquarium will have two of the remarkably rare crustaceans, whose distinctive blue coloring is caused by a genetic defect.
“At this point, we’re very excited to bring him into our collection and have him at our aquarium,” Sabec said.
According to the Adventure Aquarium website, only one in about one million lobsters is blue. Other online scientific sources estimate the figure at just one in every two million lobsters.
Scientists believe that lobsters may live as long as 100 years, but no one has yet figured out a way to accurately tell their age, the Adventure Aquarium website says.
Burcaw estimated the Sea Isle blue lobster is about 7 or 8 years old. Burcaw’s sons, Eric Jr. and Kevin, caught the creature during a lobster-fishing trip about 85 miles off the New Jersey coast on Oct. 23.
“I didn’t know what it was. At first, I thought it was one of the blue gloves that we have on board,” Eric Burcaw Jr. recalled of when he initially saw the lobster.
When Burcaw and his sons showed off the exotic creature to the media in Sea Isle last Thursday, its cobalt blue shell and claws were glistening in the sun.
They have been keeping the lobster in a container submerged in the lagoon where they dock their lobster boat, in Sea Isle’s historic Fish Alley district.
Burcaw noted that the lobster has remained active while eating the sardines and butterfish fed to it in the past week.
According to plans, the lobster will be placed in a cooler filled with bags of water for the trip to Adventure Aquarium. It will first spend time in quarantine before going on public display, Sabec said.
There was some initial confusion over whether Adventure Aquarium actually wanted the lobster. Burcaw said he had trouble reaching anyone in authority at the Camden facility, leaving him with the impression that the aquarium wasn’t interested. But Adventure Aquarium got in touch with Burcaw on Monday, assuring him that it would take the lobster.
The Atlantic City Aquarium had also offered to take the blue lobster, Burcaw said. However, he wanted it displayed in a major facility, such as Adventure Aquarium, where it could be viewed by big crowds.
“I have nothing against Atlantic City, but Camden is a much bigger aquarium,” he said. “I’m glad for the people who will get a chance to see it.”