By: Parimal M. Rohit
DANA POINT – Anyone who watches “Spongebob Squarepants” certainly knows the name Larry the Lobster, a muscular bodybuilding crustacean. The 2014 lobster season has also featured a large crustacean named Larry the Lobster, and it was a heavyweight wrestling match to bring him ashore.
Within two days of the start of this year’s lobster season, two local divers spotted and caught one of the largest spiny bugs in California history.
Dana Point resident Brendan Dirks dove into the Pacific Ocean with his friend Ace Wallace after sunset on Sept. 29. It was his third dive of the season and by 9:30 p.m., Dirks found the fully grown lobster that would soon be named Larry.
He had seen Larry on previous dives earlier in the year. Since lobster season had not yet started, all Dirks could do was watch the large spiny bug in his hole.
When Dirks, 26, finally saw Larry the evening of Sept. 29, he grabbed and bear hugged the lobster. He said it was a battle to catch Larry, wrestling with him on the water’s surface before finally bringing him ashore near Dana Point Headlands.
Larry weighed in at 15 pounds, 9 ounces. He is about 8 ounces shy of the heaviest lobster catch ever recorded in California. According to official state records, a 16-pound, 1-ounce lobster was caught near Catalina Island in 1968.
Dirks took Larry home, where he has a large saltwater tank, for a couple days before approaching the Ocean Institute to see if they wanted to house the lobster.
According to Julianne Steers of the Ocean Institute, the educational organization is already overpopulated with lobster. With no room on-site to house Larry, Steers recommended he be re-released into the ocean.
Larry the Lobster was returned into the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 1.
Both Dirks and Steers said a lobster of Larry’s size is actually best served sustaining the lobster population underwater.
Though Larry is back in the ocean, Dirks will always remember his brief interaction with one of the largest spiny bugs to ever be seen out of the water.
“Big lobster don’t taste that good anyway,” Dirks said, expressing no regret of releasing Larry back into the ocean.
With lobster season continuing through the winter and into spring, Dirks added he will continue to go diving for spiny bugs.
Male lobsters off the California coast can reach 26 pounds in weight and 3 feet in length.
Lobster season launched Sept. 27.