For half a century, Crusty the lobster scuttled about the rocks and reefs along the Moray Firth, minding his own business. A giant among marine life, the two-foot-long crustacean was something of a celebrity among divers exploring the coastline near Lossiemouth.
However, after wandering off his usual beaten track and into the net of a fisherman last week, the largest lobster ever caught in the north-east of Scotland has met his end on the dinner tables of a hotel restaurant - much to the disquiet of local residents.
Crusty weighed in at 10lbs, five times the size of the usual lobster, with claws as big as a man's hand. Local divers believe his stature deserved more respect.
"It had become quite a feature on our dives. He was such a rare sight that we would set out to try to find him on the reef," said Kenneth Ross of the Elgin-based Burghead Sub-Aqua Club.
"We know it is the same lobster because the pattern of barnacles on its claws. We reckon it could be as much as 50 years old, and to kill such an old beast is very short-sighted.
"Such a rare example of our coastal marine life should have been left where it was."
Crusty was hauled ashore in a creel by local fisherman Ike McKeen. "We were flabbergasted," Mr McKeen, said. "We had never seen a lobster that size, nor had any of the other fishermen we showed it to."
Crusty's grieving fans believe that he should have been put in an aquarium. Instead, he was bought by the Mansfield Hotel in Elgin, where he was cooked in the largest pot the chef, Chris Morrison, could find.
"When you buy a lobster you don't pause to ponder whether it is a celebrity or not. You just stick it in the pot," said Ross Murray, manager of the Mansfield Hotel.
"If we had known the lobster was so well known, we would have been open to donating it to an aquarium. Unfortunately it is a bit too late to do anything now."
Instead of roaming the seas, Crusty's remains - his claws, tail and shell - are to be put on display in the hotel's dining room.
Despite suggestions that Crusty's death was a waste as his advanced years probably meant he would be too tough to eat, Mr Ross said the lobster had tasted "pretty good" and the meat wasn't tough at all. "We got about four portions from it," he said.Reuse content