Originally created 06/18/04

Lobster found guarding a watch off England



LONDON -- Lobsters have long been known as solitary and territorial crustaceans - but timely and fashion conscious?

Divers in northeast England were recently surprised to come across a giant lobster standing guard over a barnacle-encrusted watch at the bottom of a harbor.

Maybe the lobster just knew a bargain: The watch was still ticking.

The watch and its 2-foot-long guardian were found by divers doing maintenance work in Blyth harbor, officials said Thursday.

"We're all highly experienced divers, and none of us has seen anything like this before," said Graham McDonnar, a member of the Lady Francis Dive Team.

"Not only is this the biggest lobster any of us have ever come across under water, but it's also the first sea creature we've encountered that can tell the time," he joked.

The lobster, estimated to be about 30 years old, was taken to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth, where it is settling in well in the harbor tank display.

"Lobsters are well known for being extremely territorial," especially regarding their habitats, said one Blue Reef official, Zahra d'Aronville. "Perhaps it identified the watch as part of its territory and has been standing guard over it ever since."

Whatever the motive, the lobster has nothing to worry about.

If the aquarium isn't allowed to keep the watch, it will buy the lobster a waterproof replacement, "as he's clearly very keen on being on time," d'Aronville said.