The lobster was reportedly 132 years old.
When Butch Yamali bought Peter’s Clam Bar, a seafood joint in Hempstead, Long Island, he didn’t know the full extent of what he was inheriting. It was just four years ago that Yamali took over the clam bar, and he was surprised to see a lobster in the bar’s tank that was 22 pounds and had apparently been there for a little less than 20 years.
That was 4 years ago, and to this day Yamali hadn’t sold Louie the lobster for food, despite the seafood cuisine that is obviously served at the clam bar. Customers had attempted to persuade Yamali to sell Louie, including one who recently approached the owner and offered $1,000 for the lobster.
“He was trying to negotiate with me. He said, ‘I want to bring it home for a Father’s Day feast.’ I mean, that would’ve been some impressive feast. But I didn’t want to sell it. It’s like a pet now, I couldn’t sell it,” Yamali said.
Upon realizing that he would never sell him for food, Yamali decided to look into releasing Louie back into the wild. Since experts estimated Louie to be 132 years old, it was determined that Louie would be more than equipped to handle life at sea.
Yamali set to work in order to release Louie during National Lobster Month, which is in June, and wound up setting him free in a big ceremony just one day after National Lobster Day, which was on June 15. In an event that was attended by local residents, town officials, and bar staff, Louie was lowered down into a boat in Reynolds Channel, where he was subsequently released.
“Today I’m announcing an official pardon for Louie the Lobster,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said with a wink. “Louie may have faced a buttery fate on a seafood lover’s plate, but today we are here to return Louie to a life that is better down where it’s wetter.”
Santino even had a pardon drawn up for Louie, and Yamali mentioned that he was granting amnesty for the old lobster. Though Louie is missing a claw, experts say that the lack of natural predators and the fact that Louie is so old and large will likely fend off any predators that might happen to come around. After spending 20 years crammed into a tank with many other lobsters, Louie will certainly enjoy his renewed freedom and the infinite amount of space he has to work with. Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute in Maine, said that Louie may even find a mate.
“He’s the largest and oldest of all my lobsters. It’s happy and sad,” Yamali said. “Louie has been here about 20 years, he looks ready to go.”
The clam bar previously released another lobster, Larry, back in June 2016, leaving many wondering if this will be an annual affair.
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