updated 03/10/2011 AT 6:25 PM ET
•originally published 10/26/2009 AT 4:30 PM ET
Just off New York City’s busy Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, an 11-lb., 70-year-old lobster awaits his fate.
He may not know it, but Larry may soon be heading back to the waters off Maine’s coast, where he was first caught before being brought to Oceana restaurant.
His saga began when Ryan Sutton, a writer for Bloomberg, opined that the lobster (named Larry, George or Peter, depending on who you ask) deserved to be spared from ending up as someone’s very expensive dinner.
Larry’s age was determined as 70 because of his weight, and at $25/lb., he was on the menu for $275. At least five of his pounds are shell, so he would have yielded about five-and-a-half pounds of meat, mostly claw.
“There’s something deeply unsettling – logic and science aside – about feasting on a creature so long-lived,” Sutton wrote.
It was an unexpected fight for Larry’s life, certainly for Oceana’s management, who were surprised by the reaction to Sutton’s story. They received “a couple dozen” e-mails and phone calls from people who expressed their dismay and concern for Larry’s well-being.
“A lot of people were very offended that we might indeed slaughter a 70-year-old lobster,” manager Paul McLaughlin tells PEOPLE. “We’re looking to set Larry free.”
The restaurant, which caters to a corporate clientele of bankers and lawyers, normally offers 1½-lb to 2-lb. lobsters on its menu, but had recently been receiving requests for bigger lobsters. “That’s when Larry appeared on our Monday morning delivery,” McLaughlin says.
Oceana, located across the street from City Lobster, another seafood restaurant, showcases its shellfish in glowing turquoise tanks. When we visited him, Larry was sitting in his own tank, though there was no doubt he was the biggest of the bunch.
“Obviously, you don’t see that size lobster everyday, but large lobsters are delivered all over the city without fanfare,” McLaughlin says. “Why this has raised an eyebrow, we’re not entirely sure, but so be it.”
Oceana’s lobster company has said that it would properly transport Larry back to Maine and release him back into its waters. According to McLaughlin, it’s unlikely that the restaurant will be offering large lobsters in the future.