TSA’s claws encounter | Boston Herald

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TSA agents clawing through luggage at Logan International Airport discovered a live 20-plus-pound lobster in what one marine biologist said is an amazing catch, because crustaceans that big don’t fit into traps.

The critter, packed in a cooler, was spotted Sunday in Terminal C and was cleared for takeoff.

“After completing the screening process, it was allowed to continue to its destination,” said Michael McCarthy, a regional spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

McCarthy told the Herald he did not know the lobster’s final destination.

But a noted expert on lobsters said if the catch is heading to a fish tank or a dinner table, the owner may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

“It’s totally crazy to take a lobster out of water. The gills will slowly dry out and the animal will slowly die,” said Jelle Atema, a biology and marine biology professor at Boston University.

“People don’t think things through,” Atema said. “If that lobster dies, I don’t know how good it would be to eat.”

Atema, who had a lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he studied sharks and lobsters, said at 20 or more pounds, the odd cargo is very rare.

“At 20 pounds, that lobster could be 20 to 25 years old or more,” he said last night. “It’s amazing it was still around.”

He said traps are too small to snare such a prize. Someone diving could have grabbed it, or the ancient mariner might have been swept up in a trawlers’ net.

“At that size, they simply don’t fit into a trap,” he said, adding some lobsters can live up to a century. But, on average, their lifespan is 50 years.

The creature spotted at Logan was in checked baggage and the TSA spokesman said travelers are urged to follow the rules on how to pack unique items.

In the entry for live lobsters, the TSA regulations call for “a clear, plastic, spill proof container.” And an agent will inspect it to make sure it’s for real.

There is no entry for butter.



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