The founder of the Luke’s Lobster restaurant chain is irked that the animal species most closely associated with Maine has yet to claw its way into the menagerie of “emoji” pictograms available for electronic messaging.

Restaurateur Luke Holden says the aim of his online petition is to impress upon the UniCode emoji committee that thousands would like to see the lobster represented. Staff photo by Penelope Overton

But that may be about to change, and Maine native Luke Holden is doing his part to put the pressure on.

The Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit governing body responsible for determining which emojis get added each year, announced this month that the lobster is a candidate for release in 2018. Holden said it is among the 67 emojis that will be winnowed down to a list of finalists at the consortium’s annual members’ meeting in October.

In an effort to promote the lobster emoji, Luke’s Lobster launched an online petition drive Tuesday on Change.org under the title “Let’s Make The Lobster Emoji Happen.”

“The emoji sea is filled with crab, shrimp, octopus, squid, whale, spouting whale, blowfish … and even (a) non-fish human deep-sea diver,” the petition says. “And out of the water, shrimp gets extra love with tempura! There is a large void in the shape of our favorite Maine lobster.”

More than 1,500 people signed the petition during the campaign’s first 24 hours. Holden said the demand for a lobster emoji is certainly there. His restaurant chain has 30 U.S. locations, including one Maine restaurant in Tenants Harbor, and six in Japan.

“We see a lot of ‘#NoLobsterEmoji’ ” in comments on social media, he said Wednesday. “There’s a big discussion around there being no lobster emoji.”

Holden said his aim is to impress upon the consortium’s emoji committee that thousands would like to see the lobster take its place alongside the dozen other sea creatures already available in emoji form. In all, there are more than 2,600 Unicode emojis covering a wide range of objects, including facial expressions, food items, weather symbols, animals and national flags.

Proposed lobster emoji.

Unicode is a standardized system for letters and symbols that has made it easier to share software applications among many different languages and regions of the world. The consortium members include major computer corporations, software producers, database vendors, government ministries, research institutions, international agencies and various user groups.

“We want to make sure the committee knows that there’s a bunch of people out there that want that lobster emoji,” Holden said.

There are other petitions on Change.org promoting the lobster emoji, but none has garnered as many signatures as the one launched by Luke’s Lobster.

Holden said the company started out with a modest goal of gathering 500 signatures. Having already blown way past that, he said the goal is now far more ambitious.

“Our (chief financial officer) said he’d get a lobster tattoo if we get to 50,000,” Holden said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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Twitter: @jcraiganderson