From time to time here on the blog, I’m going to feature entries from one of the 101 Travel Bits books. Today, I’m featuring 101 Travel Bits: The Overseas Highway, available for purchase at Amazon on Kindle, the Kindle app (for any phone or tablet) or in paperback.
Travel Bit Number 36: Betsey the Lobster
Islamorada is known for its sportfishing, but fishing is not just a recreational activity in the Keys. The Spiny Lobster—a species of lobster that is covered with spines to protect it from predators—is the largest commercial fishery in Florida, and in the Florida Keys, the Spiny Lobster and shrimp fisheries are the two largest commercial fisheries. The products from these fisheries can be found on menus throughout the Keys.
The Spiny Lobster bears only a slight resemblance to its more well-known Maine cousins, as visitors to the Keys can see for themselves thanks to Betsey, an anatomically correct, thirty foot tall and forty foot long Spiny Lobster sculpture who inhabits a parking lot outside an outdoor market and artist community along the Overseas Highway. The ocean-dwelling version of the Spiny Lobster only grows to about two feet long and fifteen pounds, and the most obvious anatomical difference between it and its northern cousin is the Spiny Lobster’s lack of claws.
Betsey, who is about thirty years old, was created by Marathon artist Richard Blaze and is supposedly the second-most photographed site in the Florida Keys, after the Southernmost Point buoy in Key West.
Depending on who you ask, Betsey may be the largest lobster in the world. Her competition for that title comes from Shediac, New Brunswick, a city known as “The Lobster Capital of the World.” Their lobster statue—depicting the Maine version—is about thirty-five feet long and sixteen feet tall. As one can see from a quick comparison, this is clearly smaller than Betsey; however, the Shediac lobster weighs in at nearly 100 tons. Betsey weighs a mere fraction of that, and it has caused Shediac to proclaim their lobster as the world’s largest. The debate rages on, but either way, one will probably need a lot of butter to deal with either of them.