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Hold the butter and forks: Goliath the Lobster gets new home at Montreal Biodome

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MONTREAL - Goliath the giant lobster isn't worrying about anyone buttering him up for a feast.

Not that anyone could really say what the unblinking seven-kilogram crustacean is thinking after being whisked from a Montreal-area supermarket to a new life at Montreal's Biodome nature museum.

Found among their lobster shipment last week, the staff at the IGA supermarket in Varennes near Montreal couldn't see selling the beady eyed bottom-dweller and called the museum.

"They found it very spectacular," Serge Pepin, the Biodome's curator of animal collections, said on Friday. "They decided to give it a chance of survival."

Lucky for Goliath because even Pepin acknowledges he would have made quite a meal.

"Until recently, I thought that large lobsters like that were not good to eat but I've been told the contrary by a person from the IGA market," said the curator.

"They said that the problem with the large lobster is that the people overcooked them. That's the reason they find the flesh harder. But they are apparently as good as the smaller ones are."

Goliath is estimated to be between 35 to 50 years old, although Pepin says it's impossible to put an exact age on it because of the way lobsters are built. They don't have bone structures with growth rings, like some animals, that would enable scientists to tell.

It's an American lobster, however, caught in the Northwest Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia before it was shipped to Quebec.

Too big for most pots, Goliath's new home is the Biodome's vast St. Lawrence ecosystem basin, far away from forks and hungry diners.

"He's doing pretty well," said Pepin. "He's started eating."

Goliath spent a few days in an isolation tank before being gingerly placed on Thursday in the rocky shored basin of the St. Lawrence ecosystem at the Biodome where visitors can see him.

It will be transferred to the ecosystem's main basin, which contains 2.5 million litres of seawater, in two weeks and once there will be harder for the public to glimpse because it will likely remain on the bottom, hiding from predators amid rocks and in caves.

Goliath won't be lonely once it gets there — the basin is home to 30 other lobsters. Granted, lobsters are territorial by nature.

"He's very large, large claws," Pepin said of the ecosystem's newest resident. "It's a seven-kilogram specimen so pretty rare."

Pepin said Goliath seems healthy — among the indicators are colour and movement — although being noctural, he sits around a lot.

"At this size they are not very active," Pepin explained. "During the day, they tend to remain in caves and they get out during the night and start chasing different prey. They're predators so they feed on fish and other invertebrates."

He wasn't sure how strong Goliath's huge mitts are but said one claw is usually used for crushing and intimidation while the other, smaller one is a cutting tool.

Goliath isn't the biggest of the undersea predators the Biodome has welcomed.

An eight-kilogram lobster — also dubbed Goliath — was donated to the facility in 2008 by a Boston woman who won it in a Super Bowl contest.

The creature was found dead at the bottom of the tank two years later. Old age is believed to be the cause.

Pepin said there are probably more lobsters like Goliath out there but they don't show up that often because they wouldn't easily fall into a fisherman's trap.

He said many lobsters also don't get that big because they fall prey to other sea-going predators when they're young.

The largest of the clawed critters known to date weighed 20 kilograms and measured almost 110 centimetres from the tips of its claws to the end of its tail.

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