RIP my favorite California spiny lobster

Tank, the CA spiny lobster

Alas, Tank, my favorite California spiny lobster at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, died this past weekend. One minute he was sitting on his favorite rock, the next minute he was on the bottom of the tank on his side. A lobster on its side usually means one of two things, it’s molting or it died. Unfortunately, in this scenario it was the later. (As far as I know, no one knows why or how he died, but if I hear otherwise I’ll post an update.)

I have to admit, I was pretty attached to this lobster. He was just so cool, so red and so huge. Tank weighed 14 pounds and was estimated to be more than 60 years old. (No one knows exactly how old because it’s impossible to tell when all indications of age are molted off with the shedding of the exoskeleton, the only way lobsters can grow.) He spent most of his life in the ocean off Southern California until he was caught by a diver who brought him to the aquarium where he spent the last few years of his life.

Thanks for your sacrifice Tank. I want to believe that your captivity captured the imagination of thousands of school children and helped inspire them to safeguard our oceans. Although doubts plague me since more often than not, parents just joked, “Where’s the butter.” But know that you inspired me to transcend the shortsightedness of only viewing lobsters as food and helped me recognize the amazing qualities of lobsters and in particular the fascinating characteristics of California spiny lobsters. You played an important role in my life and you will not be forgotten.

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