There’s nothing I like more than steak and lobster. Mmm, mmm good! For our 10th anniversary dinner, Mrs. Two Blonde Boys and I went to the Chart House in Maui. I couldn’t believe it when the waiter told us they were out of lobster! The Alaskan King Crab legs were good, but nothing beats lobster in my book.
In fact, nothing beats a 12 pound lobster named “Ralph.” That’s right… 12 pounds.
As a free diver and spearfisherman, Ray Fulks has seen some incredible creatures underwater, but none prepared him for his eyeball-to-eyeball encounter with “Ralph.”
“Ralph” is the nickname Fulks’ diving partner David Frapwell bestowed on a 12-pound lobster that Fulks wrestled out of a cave in about 10 feet of water Friday while free diving off La Jolla. Most lobster tales end with the crustacean going headfirst into a pot of boiling water. But that’s not the case here.
“On one of my dives, I found a hole, poked my head in and couldn’t believe how big this lobster was,” Fulks said. “I never dreamed I’d ever see a lobster that big.”
Fulks went to the surface, as much to get a breath as to collect his wits. He wondered if he could get his shoulders in the small cave that served as the lobster’s lair. He took a big breath and went back down.
“I reached in and grabbed him by the antennae around the thick part at the base, and he didn’t move,” Fulks said. “He was just big and slow, but he held onto the cave’s sides really tight. I had to pull really hard to get him out. When I got him out, he looked like the biggest thing I’d ever seen. I put him under my arm and expected him to kick the heck out of me as I surfaced, but he never did.”
“David saw me swimming with it, and he couldn’t figure out what I had under my arm. When I got it to the beach and we looked at it, I said, ‘This could be someone’s pet. We could put a collar and a leash on it and take it for a walk.'”
They took it home, snapped some pictures and took some measurements. The carapace was 7 inches long (more than twice the length of a legal lobster’s required 3¼ inches from eye socket to the edge of the carapace), and the lobster measured 20 inches from eyes to tail. It takes spiny lobsters five to seven years just to reach legal size of 1 to 1½ pounds, so a lobster 12 pounds likely is 20 years old or more. Fulks figures Ralph is at least 40. Spiny lobsters can live to be 50, and the biggest ever recorded went 26 pounds and was 3 feet long.
Knowing how unique Ralph was, the men called one of Frapwell’s commercial fishing buddies for advice.
“He told us they usually let their bigger lobsters like this go, so we decided to do the same thing,” Fulks said. “We agreed on it almost simultaneously. It just didn’t feel right keeping it. I had two legal bugs in addition to Ralph, so I really didn’t need to keep an old lobster like this.”
Ralph was spared the pot of boiling water and melted butter and instead was taken to La Jolla Cove for a planned release. Valerie Grischy, president of the La Jolla Cove Swim Club, fetched a scale and Ralph weighed in at 12 pounds.
For the record… I would have let him go, too.
Read the entire article from the San Diego Union Tribuine HERE.
HT: Dave Barry