Freed lobster makes waves

BOSTON (AP) — Pity Bob the lobster. Spared from a boiling pot in Denver and set free in Boston Harbor, he might be cooked anyway.
First, he lost a claw on the flight east. Then, his well-meaning rescuers left his other claw bound shut with a rubber band when they dropped him in the ocean.
One other thing: Bob was freed in waters rife with lobster traps.
Now the Denver restaurant owners and TV stations who teamed up to set him loose are fielding calls from viewers horrified to have seen the 10-pound crustacean dropped into the water with that red band still on.
“People call and say, ‘You killed that lobster,’ and I say, ‘Do you realize what we do to our lobsters here?'” said Robert Hahn, who manages the Chowda House restaurant in Littleton, Colo. “At least he’s got a fighting chance now.”
Bob — who weighs about six times as much as your average restaurant lobster, but at 20 years old, might not be as tasty — had been cooped up in a Chowda House tank for a couple of months when he was raffled off for charity at a Christmas party.
A United Airlines pilot offered to fly Bob to Boston and release him, and the owners of the three-restaurant chain in the Denver area flew along, too.
Somewhere along the way, Bob lost one of his claws. Experts say he might have shucked it himself in a defense mechanism triggered by too much handling and stress.
Finally, on Tuesday, the rescuers took Bob — believed to be a Maine native — for a little boat ride near Logan Airport.
Restaurant co-owner David Francavilla, who handled the release, took no chances with the big guy. Instead of taking off the rubber band, he just slipped it toward the end of the claw so Bob could work it off.
“We didn’t want to lose a finger or anything. His claw had to be close to a foot long,” Francavilla said.
A close-up on TV that aired Tuesday and Wednesday showed the rubber band firmly stuck on the lobster’s claw. That’s when the calls started coming in — about 100 to WHDH in Boston, and more to KUSA in Denver.
Francavilla said the restaurant received concerned calls and even a few threats.
“We thought it was a real noble cause: raise money for charity and release the lobster to live out his last few decades,” he said.
The good news for Bob is that the rubber band probably will work its way loose before too long, said Jason Goldstein, a lobster biologist for the New England Aquarium. Even if it doesn’t, Bob will be able to use his legs to forage for food.
What’s more, Goldstein said, one-clawed lobsters, or culls, often live to a ripe old age.
“Obviously, the ideal thing would have been to release a healthy lobster with two claws and no band,” Goldstein said. “But this is being blown out of proportion.”
But don’t write that happy ending yet. The harbor where Bob was released is teeming with traps, and Goldstein said there’s a significant chance he hasn’t seen his last human being.
Concluded the biologist: “It was a good gesture, but they didn’t do their homework.”