Giant lobster to be returned to wild
Updated 10:47 pm, Thursday, January 3, 2013
Take one look inside the tank at John Tung's Lobster Bin store on Field Point Road and you might be in for a shock.
Meet Sam -- a gigantic, 25-pound lobster with massive claws that hails from the frigid waters off Nova Scotia.
Tung, who has been in the seafood business for more than three decades, explained that he recently learned the enormous creature was in the possession of his lobster dealer, Wedgeport Lobster Ltd., out of Nova Scotia.
Caught about 100 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia a week before Christmas, Sam eventually came to the lobster company -- but Tung, sympathetic toward the plight of the gigantic ocean dweller, didn't want to see it eaten.
"I did my good deed for the year," said Tung, who purchased the creature by trading for it with $400 worth of his smoked salmon.
"In my lifetime, I will never come across another lobster this size," he said. "The main thing is I want to get him back in the ocean as soon as possible."
Sam, who Tung said is between 90 and 100 years old, was bound for Las Vegas, where he was going to serve as the centerpiece for a banquet, according to Tung.
Since arriving in Greenwich, Sam has proved to be a high-maintenance guest. He's been wolfing down about $5 worth of scallops and shrimp every day.
Tung wants to release the lobster back into the wild as soon as possible -- likely Tuesday or Wednesday -- and said he is unsure how long Sam would live if kept in a tank.
In order to get the lobster back into cold, deeper waters that are similar to its home habitat, Tung is planning on hiring a vessel from eastern Connecticut or Massachusetts to carry him and Sam offshore, where he will release it.
Tung, who is collecting donations at the store to fund the trip, had about $500 toward the effort as of Thursday morning.
Though Sam is an unusual find -- over 20 pounds is a rare catch anywhere, Tung said -- there is no way to accurately ascertain how old the animal is without killing it, an animal expert said.
John Lenzycki, assistant curator of animals at The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, said growth rings -- similar to the growth rings on a tree -- are evident in the eye stalks and abdomens of lobsters.
So taking a guess at Sam's age, without cutting into him, is just that, Lenzycki said -- a guess.
"He may be between 30 and 35 years old," he said.
Lobsters grow at different rates depending on a variety of factors, such as available food sources and water temperature, and males tend to grow larger than females, he said.
Some of the confusion as to how old a lobster might be can arise from the fact that lobsters take seven or eight years to reach their first pound, he said.
Despite not knowing exactly how old Sam is, "It is a significant catch," Lenzycki said.
"A guy like that would never make it into a standard lobster pot," he said.
Tung, citing conversations with veteran lobstermen, stood by his belief that Sam has been around for about a century.
"I did (this) because he's old and because he's big," he said.
Sam, however, will have to do a lot more growing if he wants to vie for the title of Largest Lobster of All Time.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest lobster ever caught was hauled in off Nova Scotia in 1977. It weighed a whopping 44 pounds, 6 ounces, and was 3 1/2 feet long.