Orange lobsters (left) show up about once in every 10 million lobsters. Color variations occur as a result of genetic variations in proteins in the shell. A split-colored yellow-and-blue lobster (right), caught near North Haven, is among the rarest lobsters in the world. The odds of finding one may be as high as one in 100 million. Photos by C. Parrish
Orange lobsters (left) show up about once in every 10 million lobsters. Color variations occur as a result of genetic variations in proteins in the shell. A split-colored yellow-and-blue lobster (right), caught near North Haven, is among the rarest lobsters in the world. The odds of finding one may be as high as one in 100 million. Photos by C. Parrish
The buyer at J & J's Lobster dealers on the Rockland waterfront pulled a small lobster out of the tank and held it up. It was half yellow and half blue, divided right down the middle. It was the same shape as the common greenish-brown lobster that is hauled up in a lobster trap, but it looked like it was dressed up as a jester.

The dealers at J & J's have seen plenty of colorful lobsters, but nothing like this.

Neither has Dr. Robert Bayer, a biologist and the director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.

Bayer has seen a brown-and-orange split-colored lobster, with half the body orange and half brown. They are among the rarest colored lobsters found - estimated to occur in one of every 50 million lobsters.

"All the ones I have seen have also been hermaphroditic," said Bayer, meaning the split lobsters have both male and female sex organs. The yellow-and-blue is a male.

Split lobsters are rarer than blue lobsters, which occur once in every two million lobsters. And they are rarer than red or orange lobsters, which are found once in every 10 million lobsters, according to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. This one was caught off North Haven, but it came in with a batch of lobster and the lobsterman who caught it is not known at this time.

A bright orange one-and-a-quarter-pound lobster, that looks like it has already been cooked and is as lively as a wet cat, was caught by Josh and Amanda Allen of Rockland on Hours and Hours in the past few days. It was hauled from about 260 feet of water in the middle of the bay, between Rockland and North Haven, near the PB buoy. It is now on view at an isolation tank at the Rockland Cafe on Main Street and is destined to be mounted on the wall after a while on display.

The color variations are the result of genetic variations in the proteins that make up shell colors. Bayer said it is not clear if the occurrences of oddly colored lobsters are more numerous than previously. It is just as likely, he said, that the ability to report the variations has improved as social media has become widespread.

The rare split yellow-and-blue lobster is joining the orange lobster in the isolation tank at the Rockland Cafe, where it is likely to attract some scientific visitors. There are no odds in yet on how rare the split-color lobster is, but it could be as rare as an albino lobster, which had no color at all. The odds of finding an albino lobster are one in 100 million.