In his 25 years in the seafood business, Frank Marinello says he'd never seen a yellow lobster - at least not before the lobster was boiled.

But he spotted one Friday morning, inside a crate of live lobsters delivered to his store, New Wave Seafood Market in Wantagh.

"I went to grab it [the lobster] and it was alive," he said as he held it Friday afternoon. "I've never handled one before."

The crustacean - known as a yellow lobster despite its orange color - was in its own bucket Friday, inside a large tank with dark green and black lobsters. All the lobsters came from Nova Scotia.


Customers walked into the back of the store to marvel at the lobster.

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Lori Hassin, 52, of Merrick, took a cell phone picture of a regular lobster and the yellow lobster, now named "Patty," after Marinello's wife.

"That will make my students very happy," said Hassin, a New York City schoolteacher. "We've been doing ocean animals, but they didn't color it that way."

Robert Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, said the yellow lobster is a "rare genetic occurrence."

"It's a genetic trait just like eye color in people," he said.

Bayer, who has 30 years' experience in lobster research, said such lobsters show up just two or three times each year. He described occasional sightings of other kinds: blue lobsters, red lobsters and white albino lobsters, which he said are the rarest.

Todd Gardner, an aquarist at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, said the odds of finding a lobster like Patty were 1 in 2 million to 3 million. Blue and white lobsters are much rarer, he said.

A lobster of Patty's size - 13/4 pounds - would sell for about $17, but Marinello said he doesn't want the crustacean anywhere near a kitchen.

"We've been looking to see if someone will display it" in another aquarium or elsewhere, he said. "Or do something with it instead of eating it."

Chris Paparo, the senior aquarist at Atlantis Marine World, said the aquarium had to turn "Patty" down.

"I have two of them already, and I don't know what to do with them all," he said. With Tula Batanchiev