Jacob Knowles is a fifth-generation Maine lobsterman, and he is passionate about his work.
In November, Knowles posted a series of videos on Instagram after a friend showed him an extremely rare lobster.
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The lobster, which he named “Bowie” after the late singer/songwriter David Bowie, is not only multi-colored — exactly half-red and half-blue — but also appears to be half-male and half-female.
“Nobody I’ve talked to in the harbor has ever seen one like this either,” Knowles said, according to NPR. “So, that speaks pretty loudly.”
Alex Ascher, who is a post-doctoral investigator and marine biologist for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said that bi-colored lobsters account for just 1 in 50 million, according to Spectrum News.
Ascher said it was even harder to estimate the odds of someone finding a gynandromorph — the proper term for an animal with both male and female genitalia — lobster that also has two colors.
“It’s certainly rare,” he said. “In terms of how rare, it’s pretty tough to say.”
During his first video, Knowles asked viewers to vote on whether he should notch and release the lobster, meaning he marks it as mature female able to reproduce so other fishermen avoid capturing it, or build it a cage and study it. According to Spectrum News, Knowles said that he is attempting to keep the lobster alive in an underwater cage in hopes that the lobster produces eggs.
“I’ve seen pictures of them before, growing eggs on half their tail,” he said. “It would be super cool to see if we could hold onto this lobster for a couple months through the winter, (and) get it to grow eggs.”
Ascher said that it is a possibility that the lobster will be able to produce eggs if Knowles can keep it alive long enough; however, it’s unlikely those eggs would be viable.
Ascher said that he “has never heard of a gynandromorph lobster that could fertilize its own eggs.”
New England Aquarium biologist Jordan Baker explained the reasoning for a lobster having both genders, NPR reported: “There are these embryo mutations or changes in that ontogenetic development. The combination of embryos or division that basically make two different animals.”
Baker hopes that Knowles will consider donating Bowie to her aquarium.
“A lot of lobstermen in our area, in Maine and the rest of New England have been really generous when they find these rarities and offer them to us,” she said.
Bowie got its name after roughly 50,000 commenters suggested it.
Other name suggestions included “Two-Face,” “Icy Hot,” “Lobstery McLobsterface” and “50 Percent.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.