No, no, not the lobsters! (But I think PETA will be quite happy, nevertheless)
Today a gloomy story in the Globe caught my eye, indicating that a disfiguring lobster shell disease may be heading northward. This isn't good news at all. New England lobstering is a lucrative and important industry, with its own rather heated turf wars (although I guess "turf" isn't quite the correct word--"surf wars," instead? "Surf and turf" wars?)
The problem hasn't reached north of Cape Cod yet, and I sincerely hope it doesn't. Apparently, the coldness of our more northern waters has had a protective effect (I'm glad it's good for something; it certainly is wretched for swimming).
Here's an excerpt from the report:
Lobsters with shell disease, according to Robert Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, have such grotesque shells that they "look like they've had battery acid dropped on them. There's something going on inside that lobster that allows bacteria on the shell to essentially eat the shell," Bayer said. The disease isn't dangerous to humans, Bayer said, but afflicted lobsters are so unsightly they can't be sold on the lucrative market for live lobsters. Diseased lobsters can still be sold for packaged food, biologists say, but at lower prices.
So, it's a cosmetic problem only. I bet this fact brings great joy to PETA, since the disease doesn't seem to hurt the lobsters themselves at all; it just discourages their consumption by humans. In fact, I have a suspicion that this all might be a PETA-bioengineered plot to save the lobster, in conjunction with their recently-announced fish empathy project.
This disease appears to be the nail fungi of the lobster world. If we weren't so squeamish and appearance-focused, we could still eat those yummy lobsters in the best way: freshly boiled, in the shell. But oh, we shallow Americans, so focused on lobster loveliness! I, for one, think I could learn to rise above it; I'm more interested in the lobster's inner beauty.