crawfish escapes fate of ordinary comrades
Alan Dufrene and his coworkers at the Exterran oilfield-equipment company near the Bayou Black boat launch in Houma
often set crawfish traps in the bayou before work to try their luck. They were shocked when they pulled in the trap found
an electric blue crawfish gleaming amid its typical red brethren. Desmore, a middle-school teacher with the Terrebonne
Parish school system, said they had never seen anything like the blue crawfish. His unique coloring saved him from a trip
to the boiling pot. He was beautiful, a friend took it home to keep in his aquarium. Relatively rare, but not unknown, bright
blue crawfish are caused by a genetic abnormality in the red swamp crawfish, said Ray McClain, a crawfish researcher
with the LSU AgCenter. A crawfish's coloring is determined by pigment-containing cells underneath its shell. In rarely, the
reddish coloring pigments that normally cause a crawfish to be brownish red in color don't express themselves, and it can
cause crawfish to be orange, yellow or, most dramatically, a brilliant blue. McClain said that for some reason, this mutation
appears mainly in female crawfish and is thought to be a fatal mutation for male crawfish. While they're dramatic looking,
they're not extremely rare, McClain added. "You'll find one in about every 2-3 sacks of crawfish," said David Bourgeois, a
biologist with LSU AgCenter. "They really stand out in the backdrop of all the reddish ones. Sorting them out, sometimes
crawfish dealers will notice the deep blue - they're a really odd and pretty color." Even rarer, McClain said, is albino crawfish,
which is completely white. Blue crawfish are safe to eat, McClain said, but don't expect to surprise your friends with a pot
of true blue mudbugs. The protein that causes coloring in crawfish is denatured by heat, and even a blue crawfish will turn
bright, boiled red when you cook it. Kerry St. Pe', director of the Thibodaux-based Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary
Program, said people have tried to breed the blue mudbugs to sell for pets. Dufrene wished he would have taken the crawfish
home himself. "It would have looked nice in our blue-tinted aquarium."Asked if finding a blue crawfish is thought to be lucky,
McClain laughed. "It depends on how you look at it," he said.
This came in an email my friend Carol sent me. Being a non-believer at times and having an expert marine biologist in the family, I asked him if it's true or even possible. The answer: yes.
Well, I never.....