Rocky, a 27 lb. giant lobster, sits next to a normal lobster at the Maine State Aquarium.
BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Rocky the Lobster -- all 27 pounds of him -- is heading out to sea. The giant lobster was released from captivity Thursday at the Maine State Aquarium in Boothbay Harbor.
Rocky was caught last week by shrimp fisherman Bob Maloney, who found the giant lobster in his net after his final trawl of the season.
Shrimp fishing nets have special grates installed to let lobsters and other fish escape. But Maloney says Rocky was so big he jammed the grate. Maloney, who is also a lobsterman, says he had seen ten and twelve pound lobsters before but never one as big as this.
He had a Marine Patrol warden take the lobster to the Maine State Aquarium -- where they had also never seen one so big.
Someone at the aquarium nicknamed him "Rocky". Department of Marine Resources lobster biologist Carl Wilson says giant lobsters are rare, but there is a population of them in the deeper water of the Gulf of Maine. Rocky, however, was caught just a few miles from shore, which Wilson says is surprising.
Wilson says giant lobsters play an important role in maintaining lobster population. "They're the brood stock", says Wilson. He says larger lobsters produce more eggs with a higher survival rate.
That's one reason they decided to send Rocky back to the ocean. The Aquarium doesn't have a tank big enough to properly hold the huge lobster, and Wilson says they all agreed he would be better off in the ocean.
So, with a few staff people and family members looking on, Rocky slid into the waters of Boothbay Harbor. But Wilson says he isn't likely to stay there long. He says Rocky will make his way out to sea, and find a good spot to live, eat and reproduce somewhere in the Gulf of Maine.
He leaves behind a legacy for the Aquarium. Aimee Hayden-Roderiques says when the posted photos of the giant lobster on the Aquarium Facebook page on Wednesday, "it went viral". She says they have had lots of calls and emails, including a number of news interviews from outside the state, along with many people "liking" the photos on Facebook. She hopes that will translate into more support and more interest in the aquarium.