11 Jan 2009

Ancient lobster to be freed by NY restaurant

7:10 am on 11 January 2009

A lobster thought to be about 140 years old is to be returned to the ocean after spending about 10 days in a tank at a New York City restaurant.

The 9kg (20-pound) lobster was caught off the coast of Canada about two weeks ago and bought for $US100 by City Crab and Seafood to become its mascot.

"We bought a big lobster, started taking pictures with kids and it worked out real well," said restaurant manager Keith Valenti, adding that it was a "no brainer" to return the old crustacean to the ocean.

He said a lobster's age can be worked out from how much it weighs, with each pound counting for 7 to 10 years.

Mr Valenti said it was not uncommon for lobsters to live for more than 100 years but it was rare for them to be caught because they were generally too big for the baskets.

A restaurant diner alerted the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and a spokesman said the group applauded the compassionate decision to allow the "noble old-timer" to live out his days in freedom.

The crustacean will be put back in the ocean in the waters around Kennebunkport, off Maine, where lobster trapping is banned.