Lucy the yellow lobster's in the pink in Carle Place
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The fates that watch out for rare yellow lobsters must be smiling over Lucy.
Plucked out of a shipment destined for diners last October, the celebrated crustacean now resides in a private 75-gallon tank in a Carle Place pet store.
After being rescued by a Wantagh fishmonger-restaurateur, Lucy was "adopted" by Brian Novak, chief executive of Pets Warehouse, where she now spends her days crawling around a tank specially outfitted to accommodate a lobster at a cost of $2,700, including a system that keeps the water temperature chilled to 50 degrees.
"We had to mimic the environment of the ocean bottom," said Novak, 45, who heads the three-location family business. "In general, lobsters are extremely difficult to keep alive in captivity."
Shortly after moving to her new digs, where she feasts on shrimp and fish, Lucy survived another brush with death -- superstorm Sandy, which knocked out the store's power for about a week. To preserve her and other sea creatures in neighboring tanks -- including tropical fish, two sharks and a moray eel -- Novak rented a generator the size of an SUV.
As for shelling out thousands of dollars to protect what could have been somebody's main course, Novak likened the scenario to that of a dog owner.
"You go to the vet," he said. "The vet says you've got to spend X-Y-Z. You just do it."
Besides, he added: "It's like holding onto a diamond. It's rare."
The odds of coming across a yellow lobster are estimated at one in 30 million, according to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.
Lucy "could outlive the owner easily" under the right conditions, said Robert Bayer, the institute's executive director, who said the yellow/orange coloring comes from a genetic mutation.
The odds are greater still that someone would come across two such crustaceans in a short period. But that's what happened to Frank Marinello, 46, owner of New Wave Seafood Market & Restaurant, when he spotted Lucy last fall in a 40-pound box of live lobsters plucked from the waters off Nova Scotia.
At that time, he estimated her to be 8 years old, weighing between 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds.
Two years earlier -- under similar conditions, he said -- he found his first yellow lobster, which he named Patty and kept alive for two weeks in tanks that weren't designed to be long-term lobster quarters.
Patty was named for his wife, and Lucy for the family's shih tzu, said Marinello, who receives 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of lobster a year.
As for Lucy living the good life in Carle Place, he said, "I think it's wonderful. . . . I'm happy to hear she's still going strong."