News & Politics

RIP Freckles, the Calico Lobster

He was saved by sharp-eyed employees of a Manassas Red Lobster—and lived out his life at a museum.

Freckles. Photograph via the Virginia Living Museum's Facebook page.

Freckles, an extremely rare calico lobster who narrowly escaped becoming part of a Seafarer’s Feast, died Sunday at the Virginia Living Museum. His age was unknown, and he expired while attempting to molt.

Calico lobsters occur at a rate of roughly one in 30 million, the museum said in a memorial Facebook post. Freckles was discovered by sharp-eyed employees of a Red Lobster in Manassas last year, who apparently tapped the sign when Freckles, who was orange and white, showed up. The Akron Zoo connected Red Lobster with the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, where Freckles lived out the rest of his days without fear of a morbid meeting with butter.

He died, the museum said, as he tried to shed his exoskeleton:

Like all crustaceans, lobsters must shed their exoskeleton to grow. At Freckles’ size, this molting requires a significant amount of energy, to the point in which older animals may not survive.

Freckles worked as “an ambassador for his species” at the museum.

“We are sad to hear that Freckles the Calico lobster has passed away,” Red Lobster spokesperson Nicole Bott tells Washingtonian. “Freckles was a very rare and beautiful creature. We were proud to be able to give Freckles another chance at life at the Virginia Living Museum, and thanks to the talented and caring team there, Freckles likely lived a longer life than he otherwise would have in the wild, where his coloring made him a prime target for predators.”

Red Lobster recently rescued another rare lobster in Hollywood, Florida—an orange crustacean it named Cheddar after its tasty Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Cheddar will take up Freckles’s mantle at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.