Meath wholesalers beats the odds with two rare finds including blue lobster

Meath wholesalers beats the odds with two rare finds including blue lobster
The Blue Lobster. Picture: Seamus Farrelly

A seafood wholesalers defied odds of up to five million to one when they discovered two different rare species in their deliveries in the last month.

The largest golden haddock ever recorded in the North Atlantic was uncovered when Nick's Fish took delivery of the whopping 3.5kg gutted fish, which experts estimate to be 15 years old.

Just two weeks after finding that rare exhibit, the wholesaler in Ashbourne, Co Meath came across one very rare blue lobster among his order of fresh fish, caught off the south-east of Ireland.

The lobster, which staff have named 'Betty Blue' is very much alive and well and was due to be released back into the waters by the Irish Sea Fisheries Protection Authorities in Salterstown, Co Louth.

Both species are thought to be very rare to be found along Irish coasts.

"The haddock came off the Drogheda registered boat, the Endeavour' and was landed at Dunmore East," said Niall Murray of Nick's Fish.

"It was already gutted but I decided to investigate when I saw this flicker of gold among the fish. I knew it was unusual so I Googled it and it came up straight away. There was a big fuss made of one in Scotland some time ago.

"I think it's a recessive gene mutation in both parents that causes the colour gold.

The golden haddock. Picture: Seamus Farrelly
The golden haddock. Picture: Seamus Farrelly

"I got onto expert marine biologist Declan Quigley of the Irish Sea Fisheries Protection Authorities straight away who confirmed it was an unusual find.

"We were told it's the largest one on record in the North Atlantic. The largest one before now ws 1.7kg (gut in). Ours was 3.92kg and about 15 years old.

"It's amazing how it got to that age as the golden colour would usually attract predators faster. It's now on ice in the National Museum of Ireland Natural History in Dublin and will hopefully be on display to the public down the line."

Staff were still reeling from that find when they took delivery of 60 lobsters which were landed off the coast of Co. Wicklow.

"The driver of the van commented that one was an unusual colour but I thought nothing of it," continued Niall.

"I saw the blue lobster and couldn't believe it. I think the odds of seeing one is one in two million but they increase to one in five for catching one."

It's thought that some lobsters have bright blue colouring as a result of a genetic mutation that causes the lobster to produce an excessive amount of a particular protein.

'Betty Blue' has been staying with Nick's Fish for the last week but is due to go back into the waters on Wednesday

Owner Nicholas Lynch said it was the first time he had ever seen two such rare creatures in over 30 years in the fishing industry.

"There are very few fishermen who can say in their lifetime that they have seen either a blue lobster or a golden haddock, never mind two of them in less than a month," he said.

Niall Murray and the Blue Lobster. Picture: Seamus Farrelly
Niall Murray and the Blue Lobster. Picture: Seamus Farrelly

"It something many will wait a lifetime for. We will now take a tiny nick off Betty's tail before we release her to warn other fishermen not to land her and leave her alone in the sea. There are heavy fines for landing a V-notch lobster."

Marine biologist Declan Quigley described the finds as 'extraordinary.'

"For two rare kinds of fish to turn up at the same shop in a month is extraordinary. We get a lot of information on blue lobster from the US but there really is no-one to record instances of discovery here, only me.

"I'm sure there have been only a few golden haddock found over the years but again, these finds are rarely recorded," he said.

Nick's Fish has a retail shop in Ashbourne but also delivers wholesale to restaurants, hospitals and other hospitality venues across the Leinster area.

Employing a staff of 35 people, he sells 15 tonne of fish a week and is Meath's only regulated fish processor and a Bord Bia Origin Green sustainable producer.

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