An ancient 15-pound lobster named Larry was saved from becoming dinner at a Florida seafood restaurant last week but has died in transit to the Maine State Aquarium, the Miami Herald reported.
When Joe Melluso, the owner of Tin Fish restaurant in Sunrise, Fla., first got the call about a massive lobster from his seafood supplier, he thought Larry could be 115 years old. After a picture of the lobster was broadcast on a local TV station, business owners and animal activists rallied to save him. They named him Larry and said he should live out his golden years in peace. iRescue, an animal activist group, and a team of local residents raised money for his travel from Florida to Maine.
Experts later estimated Larry’s age to be closer to 60 to 80 years old.
ABC News reported that Larry’s transit up the coast was supposed to take only one day. But Jeff Nichols, the communications director for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, which operates the aquarium, told ABC that Larry didn’t arrive until nearly a week later.
He was sent in a Styrofoam box with seaweed and gel ice packs, a method that has worked in the past for live lobsters, Nichols said. But when staff members at the aquarium opened the box Wednesday, they “found a motionless crustacean and broken gel packs,” according to the Portland Press Herald.
One staff member, unsure whether Larry was dead, poked one of his eyes and found it “dry and unresponsive.”
“This lobster had a bit of a, you know, circuitous route from its origin,” Nichols told the Press Herald. “You need to really surround it in gel packs. This container really only had three.”
Nichols told ABC that the aquarium will not perform an autopsy, but he believes the way that Larry was packaged, and how much he was handled beforehand, contributed to his death.
PETA released a statement after the news of Larry’s death, saying that instead of being shipped, he should have been directly released into the ocean.
“Larry’s needless death after efforts were made to save him from being boiled and eaten shows that he should have immediately been released back into his ocean home, not shunted about and shipped like a piece of mail to be held captive in an aquarium,’’ PETA Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement Wednesday.
John Merritt, a Florida resident who helped save Larry from the seafood restaurant, told ABC News that they did their best.
“The reason we stepped up to save Larry is because he was originally being exploited for profit and we couldn’t let that happen, and thus our mission [was] to save him and get him back home,” he told ABC. “We wish we had better news.”