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One-in-a-million white lobster caught off Achill


NEW GUEST The albino crustacean caught by Charlie O’Malley.

Anton McNulty

There is unusual goings on in the sea off Achill Island. A week ago the island made national headlines when a beach suddenly reappeared in the village of Dooagh, and now a rare white lobster has been caught off the Achill coast.
The one-in-a-million albino crustacean was caught by local fisherman Charlie O’Malley last week and has now made its home in the local aquarium, The Achill Experience.
The lobster appears white instead of the traditional dark blue due to the absence of a chemical compound called astaxanthin. The Marine Institute said such a specimen is extremely rare and very unusual to Irish waters.
Fisherman Charlie O’Malley found the lobster in his pots, and said he knew straight away it was unusual.
“I was hauling in a string of pots, and up came a white lobster, and I knew it was an unusual find because I have been fishing for the last 25 years. I’ve heard of them but never actually seen one of them before,” he said. He immediately contacted The Achill Experience to house his rare find.
The crustacean is believed to be very young, in the region of three to four years old. Lobsters  can live up to an estimated 45 to 50 years in the wild.
News of the rare catch has attracted the interest of the national and international media – good news for The Achill Experience, which is located in Crumpaun near Keel on Achill Island.
The amenity has been open for just over a year and houses a number of species found off the Achill coast. The lobster, which has yet to be named, has been put on show in the aquarium, and it is already one of the main attractions for the public.

Biggest attraction?
Terence Dever of The Achill Experience said at first they were not aware of the significance of the find, but now they feel the lobster could become one of the island’s biggest attractions.
“This new guest will mesmerise and amaze many visitors to Achill, particularly children who are only developing their understanding of marine life. I have to say this will rocket our numbers to the aquarium and to Achill for this coming season and for many seasons to come,” he said.
The Achill Experience opened its doors in April 2016, and in its first season hosted over 18,500 visitors. The amenity is made up of Mayo’s first Aquarium, a re-built boley house from the deserted-village era, cultural and artistic exhibitions, digital tablet experiences, audio visual displays and a shop. Planning permission has been granted for the next phases of development, which are due to begin in September 2018, subject to funding.

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