White lobster draws media attention to Maine town Albino in little danger of being eaten as long as the curious visit


RAYMOND, Maine -- Bill Coppersmith says the traffic in his fish market here has never been so intense, "what with visits by curious folks and the television and newspapers."

Coppersmith, a 20-year veteran of lobster fishing off Casco Bay, looked over at his holding tanks at the cause of all the attention.

"It's the white lobster," he said.

"There's none anywhere else, and now I've caught it, and the whole world wants to have a look."

Coppersmith, 40, held forth at his Fishermen's Net store between interviews with reporters for London television and a Japanese newspaper.

He said he caught the white lobster the morning of Nov. 10 and "had to look twice before I believed it."

The lobster weighs just over a pound, and though it was earlier estimated by Coppersmith to be 7 years old, it is now believed by him and others who fish for lobster to be closer to 20.

"When the trap broke the water, it just glowed," he said. "It almost looked like a toy. Then, I looked it all over, and I realized this is for real, it's not painted or anything."

Barney Hamlin, the store manager, said he and Coppersmith had telephoned nationwide but could not find another lobster like the white one, which they have named Lincoln.

At the University of Maine's Lobster Institute, director Robert Bayer said that albino lobsters were extremely rare.

He said he had seen one other specimen, near Kittery on the New Hampshire border, some 15 years ago.

Bayer, a professor of marine sciences at the University in Orono, said the albino was the product of two lobster parents with the albino trait and possessed a recessive gene trait that amounts to an absence of pigmentation.

Coppersmith has no plans to eat his lobster.

But Bayer speculated that, if boiled, it would emerge from the pot a "sort of cooked white gray -- not red."

Pub Date: 11/16/97

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