SCOTTISH fishermen caught an incredibly rare blue lobster but had to chuck it back in the sea because it was 7mm too short to land.
The chances of a lobster having a blue shell are reckoned to be just one in two million.
But the lobster captured off the Angus coastline yesterday pushed the odds even further because it was a fraction under the 87mm legal limit.
Had Tommy Yule and his son, Tommy Jnr, caught the crustacean a few weeks later it would likely have been destined for the pot.
Instead, the crew of the Lichtie Lass, from Arbroath, took a couple of snaps and chucked the arthropod back in the North Sea.
Lobster vary in colour but are usually a murky, greeny-brown but can be found with yellow, orange or tortoise shell colouring.
The reason for the rare blue pigmentation is a high volume of protein created by a genetic defect.
Tommy Snr, 44, and his 18-year-old son caught the blue lobster just half a mile from shore.
Tommy Jnr said: “It was quite small. We can keep them if they measure 87mm or over but it was only around 80mm from eye to tail.
“It’s quite strange. They’re very rare, and when the sun shines on them they glow a bright fluorescent blue.
“But I don’t think they make more money at the market.”
Had the lobster been caught just a few weeks later during the molting season, where they can grow by up to 15%, it might have reached the legal size for keeping.
According to the University of Maine Lobster Institute, the probability of the creature having the blue colouring is widely believed to be one in two million.
Last year, two Canadian fishermen off the coast of Nova Scotia caught not one, but two vivid blue lobsters in quick succession, 150km (93 miles) apart.