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Why are lobsters red?

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If you were asked to draw a picture of a lobster, you'd probably reach for a red pencil or marker. But scientifically speaking, lobsters aren't always red!

The ocean is full of many different coloured lobsters – blue, orange, purple, greenish-brown. These are the colours that we see on the outside. The Smithsonian Institution describes these crustaceans as having "a layer cake of lobster colours." There's orange on the outside shell, blue on the shell's bottom layer and red skin underneath. Lobsters get a red pigment called astanxanthin from their plant food. When all these colours combine, they give lobsters their common spotted brown appearance.

Lobsters only turn bright red when they are cooked. Boiling water breaks down the orange and blue proteins (called crustacyanin) in their shell, revealing their red skin.

Oh, and in case you are wondering why lobsters don't share, it's because they're shellfish! (Just joking… don't get crabby about it!)

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