How a massive lobster was rescued from its fate at a South Florida restaurant

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This probably isn’t what restaurant owner Joe Melluso was expecting when he procured a really, really big lobster.

To be honest, it’s probably not what the lobster was expecting, either.

But this week, the lobster — which was destined to become the dinner of some restaurant patron in South Florida — was saved from that fate.

The crustacean has now been given a name, Larry. And, according to reports, Larry the lobster is headed to a new destination, too — the Maine State Aquarium.

“It’s something different that I’m proud of that we did,” Amir Rossi, one of the people who rescued Larry, told ABC’s Miami affiliate WPLG. “How many people can actually say that they saved a lobster?”

Here’s how this all happened: Larry is, in lobster terms, pretty big. Almost 15 pounds, in fact. After arriving at the Tin Fish restaurant in Sunrise, Florida, earlier this week, the massive lobster was featured in a WPLG report.

“A Maine lobster that is older than Broward County will soon be served at a Sunrise seafood restaurant,” WPLG reported earlier this week.

Rossi spotted a Facebook post from the station, according to the Miami Herald, and contacted John Merritt, of the group iRescue Wildlife. More people, including Erik Martinez and Brooke Estren, joined the effort, too.

The Herald reported: “Merritt contacted the restaurant with the plan to buy the lobster and send him back to his natural habitat, Maine. Meanwhile, Martinez and Estren scrambled to learn about shipping a live lobster.

” ‘Before the sun went down [Tuesday], I ran to the beach because supposedly you need to use a giant towel that’s soaked in saltwater,’ Estren said. ‘And you have to put it in the freezer. They wrap him in it, I guess as it melts, it keeps him alive. I didn’t know about that.’ ”

It cost $300 to purchase the lobster, Estren told the Herald. And that’s not including shipping.

The Associated Press put Larry’s estimated age at 60 to 110 years old. The Portland Press Herald spoke to experts in the field who said there is no “established method” for figuring out exactly how old lobster is.

“My whole life’s been about fish and seafood,” Melluso, the Tin Fish chain founder and owner, told the Herald. “I’m happiest when I have a knife in my hand and fish fileted. I’ve trained and learned from all the great old guys. I think I have a responsibility to be awesome and to teach and carry on some of the heritage that’s associated with it.

“At first, when I heard there were organizations involved, I was like, ‘Ah, that’s so silly,’ ” he continued. “Then, I was like, ‘They’re looking to protect and serve the species in a responsible way. I should be thinking like that.'”

Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, told The Washington Post in an email Friday that Larry had not yet arrived. The lobster would be quarantined to “protect the health of other marine life on display,” and staff would monitor his health. The aquarium has no plans beyond that, Nichols wrote.

A 17-pound lobster is already at the facility, according to its website.

“He’s been around a long time,” Estren, one of the rescuers, told Local 10 News. “Hopefully, he’ll keep growing and he’ll enjoy his new home.”

(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Sarah Larimer

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