On a conveyor belt of bags, purses and laptops at Boston Logan International Airport on Sunday, one meaty package was clamouring for an additional security screening.
Next to the rest of the carry-on luggage that morning, it was a fish out of water and appeared overstuffed, perhaps too big to fit under an airplane seat.
"I don't know what would have triggered what we call an alarm, whether it was the size of the container or how it appeared on the X-ray image," said Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
The it? An approximately 9kg (20lb) live Atlantic lobster that was transported through Terminal C of Logan Airport. Like any other carry-on item, a passenger sent the crustacean, which was packed in an insulated cooler, through the X-ray scanner. It projected the outline of the spiny creature on a security agent’s screen.
Logan Airport, with its proximity to the lobster-rich waters of New England, is no stranger to crustaceans. In fact, the TSA has a webpage that explains just how to transport lobsters "in a clear, plastic, spill-proof container" and advises that an agent will need to inspect it.
On Sunday, a security agent not only inspected it, he also took a photo with the monster lobster, which was shared on the TSA’s Twitter page. For its brief fame, much remains a mystery. It appeared to be male, but did it have a name? Where was it found, and where was it going? Was it destined for a clam bake, for a taxidermist or to be kept as a pet?
“Anecdotally, I have no indication of any other lobster of this size,” Mr McCarthy said.
But 33 years ago, there was a lobster named Big Jake. Caught off Long Island, Big Jake weighed 25 pounds and was shipped to Anchorage, Alaska, where he toiled with his tiny brethren in a tank and carried a steep price at a seafood store: $212.
In a world where restaurants call 3-pound lobsters “jumbo,” Big Jake became an overnight celebrity and the subject of multiple stories by The Associated Press in January 1984. Customers crowded the Anchorage store to see him and fought over who would buy him. Some said they wanted to mount him in their homes.
It was not a good environment for Big Jake, who was then shipped cross-country again, this time for a market in Boston. But fame, even for lobsters, can be cruel. His health deteriorating, Big Jake landed in Boston with “a mere flicker left in him,” the Anchorage seafood store owner told The AP. He died and was sent back to Alaska, on ice. The crustacean on Sunday escaped Big Jake’s fate, at least while at the airport.
- New York Times