If somebody doesn’t make a movie about the week Larry the lobster just had, Hollywood isn’t doing its job.

The nearly 15-pound crustacean barely escaped becoming Lobster Oreganata at a Florida restaurant, caught the attention of an animal rescue group in Costa Rica, got a one-way ticket to the Maine State Aquarium, and has now became the latest cause célèbre for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

Only the most inventive screenwriters would dare guess what lies ahead for Larry.

Larry’s soggy saga began Monday when Joe Melluso, chef-owner of the Tin Fish restaurant in Sunrise, Florida, picked him out of a tank labeled “Maine lobsters” at his seafood supplier. Melluso used to do some lobster fishing in New York’s Long Island Sound, so he knew Larry was a big fella, and unusual. He thought about making a lot of lobster salad out of him, stuffing him with crab for a large party, or making several orders of his Lobster Oreganata, which would call for Larry bathing in garlic and tomatoes.

But before he did that, Melluso called a TV station in Miami. He thought people would want to see a big lobster. They usually do. Rocky, a 27-pounder caught off Cushing in 2012, had his picture in newspapers all over the country. Melluso told the TV station that Larry was likely 110 years old, based on his own lobstering experience. But Robert C. Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, and other lobster scientists say there’s no “established method” for calculating a lobster’s age.

“We used to say a lobster was 5 to 7 years old for every pound,” Melluso said Thursday.



At some point during all this commotion, the lobster got the name Larry, and it stuck.

Within hours of Larry’s TV appearance, Melluso got a call from representatives of iRescue, an animal rescue group based in Costa Rica, saying it wanted to help save the big lobster. The staff of iRescue then helped arrange Larry’s trip to the Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor, which is run by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The aquarium already has several lobsters on display for people to look at and learn from, according to its website.

But while Larry was on his way to Maine on Thursday, PETA sent a letter to the aquarium staff demanding they release a lobster they didn’t yet have. PETA doesn’t think Larry, or any lobster, should be held captive, or caught, or eaten, said Danielle Katz, a PETA spokeswoman based in Los Angeles.

If the aquarium doesn’t release Larry, Katz said PETA has members who are “eager to take action” to make sure he is released.



PETA is known for fairly flamboyant protests in public spaces. Katz said the group is planning one of its “naked plate” protests at the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland on Aug. 3. Those protests feature a giant plate, with a strategically positioned naked person lying on the plate. It’s usually accompanied by a sign reading, “Try to relate to who’s on your plate.”

Katz said PETA members feel that confinement in an aquarium will “no doubt cause stress for Larry.”

“He’s already been kidnapped from his home, handled by restaurant workers and shipped to Maine,” Katz said. “Larry deserves to live out his days in freedom and peace.”

Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the Department of Marine Resources, said he wasn’t sure how Larry was traveling, and he declined to comment on whether the lobster will be released. Nichols said that once Larry arrives, he’ll be quarantined for a while to protect the other aquatic life there, and he’ll get a medical exam. Other than that, Larry’s schedule while in Maine seems to be wide open.

Larry’s escape from Florida, and the fact that PETA’s on his side, seem to be the main causes of his celebrity. At about 15 pounds, he’s not the biggest lobster to come to Maine. When Rocky, the 27-pounder, was caught accidentally in a shrimp net, state officials said they had no record of a bigger Maine lobster. He was brought to the Maine State Aquarium too, but released a week later. And then there was the 44-pounder caught off Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1977. That lobster went into the Guinness Book of Records.

Larry’s probably not the oldest lobster either, if size indicates age. Bayer, the lobster researcher, thinks Larry is probably more like 60 to 80 years old. Lobsters can grow to be more than 100 years old though, according to the website for the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.


And Larry might not even be from Maine. He certainly looks like a Maine lobster. But Maine law prohibits lobstermen from keeping lobsters with body shells measuring more than 5 inches long, according to the marine resources agency website.

Because of that law, Maine lobstermen don’t use traps that would target really big lobsters, said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. They wouldn’t want a really big guy to get into their trap because it would keep them from catching more legal-sized lobsters, she said.

If Larry does get released into the waters of West Boothbay Harbor near the aquarium, he may wander free and live happily ever after. That would be the perfect Hollywood ending to this fish’s tail.

Or he may wander out of friendly Maine waters and get trapped all over again.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.


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