A fisherman has described landing a rare blue lobster in Belfast Lough as the catch of a lifetime.
Some marine biologists have estimated the odds of catching a blue lobster at around two million to one.
Stuart Brown, 28, from Bangor, Co Down, said he could not believe his eyes when he pulled one of his lobster pots up onto the deck of his boat the Huntress last Friday.
“We were sitting in about 50 to 60 feet of water and the fourth pot came up,” he recalled.
“I sort of saw it, but I think I thought, ‘it’s just a lobster’. You could hear the tail going.
“I slid the pot down to the crew man who lifted it out and he made a comment: ‘That’s very blue.’
“I looked at him and said: ‘Yeah, no problem.’ But then I did look at it again and said: ‘That’s too blue.’
“You would get lobsters out there that don’t look normal, they’d be a bit browner or redder, just something different with them, but nothing that extreme.
“I looked up Google to see how rare it was, and it was one in a two million chance of catching it.”
The pot had been lying in the waters close to Blackhead Lighthouse on the northern shores of Belfast Lough.
The experienced skipper, who has been fishing since the age of 11, said the bright blue lobster was just below the allowable size to keep, so, after taking some pictures of the rare crustacean, he had to release it back into the water.
“I’ve never seen one – other fishermen I’ve spoken to who are a lot older than me, they said the same, that they haven’t seen any ever, so it’s a surprise to everybody it’s came in on the east coast,” he said.
“It’s still out in the lough somewhere, swimming about as happy as can be. Hopefully if someone else does catch it, they’ll return it as well.”
Mr Brown is a shareholder in Co Down seafood wholesaling business Seafresh, which sells crabs and lobsters throughout the UK and continental Europe.
He said the blue lobster has now been added to the list of “weird and wonderful things” he has seen while out at sea.
“You just never know what’s going to come up,” he said.
“Every day you go out and you could go a year or two years and the same thing comes up and you just carry on and then one random day just something completely different just lands on the deck and you just look at it and go: ‘What else is down there we don’t know yet, what else is still to come up?’”