Big Dessie’s the Skerry monster

PORTRUSH lobster fisherman, Michael Hassan, got more than he bargained for at the weekend when he hauled in an 11lb “Skerry monster”!

The 47-year-old boatman was checking lobster pots on Friday afternoon just off Portrush’s Skerry Islands when he came across what he believed was a large conger eel.

But after bringing it aboard, Michael was shocked to uncover a massive two foot long crustacean which he promptly named “Dessie” after his father.

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“We initially thought it was a conger eel because it was just such a mass of black,” said Michael whose family have fished these waters for five generations.

“It was definitely the biggest I’ve seen in 25 years, “ he revealed. “It was in a lobster pot and a miracle how he fitted in.”

Some 13 inches in girth and actually over two foot in length, Dessie has since been examined by a marine biologist who believes he is three times the size of a normal lobster with an estimated age of 60 to 70-years-old.

“He is very docile and barely moves... but this one could easily snap your wrist,” continued Michael, whose three-year-old daughter took quite a shine to the aging monster of the deep.

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“Maisey’s lobster crazy, she’s fanatical about them, and enjoys eating them too. When she saw it she thought it was amazing.”

But Maisey, who is not much bigger than Dessie, is happy that her father won’t be selling this lobster to a local restaurant even though it could fetch up to £300.

“Maisey wouldn’t want a thing like Big Dessie killed — certainly not, anyway, I’d say a lobster that age would taste as tough as old boots,” commented Michael.

So after some frantic phone calls - including a disappointing one to the Exploris aquarium in Portaferry (they have no suitable spare tanks) - Dessie has been found a new home at Galway’s Atlantaquaria in the Republic.

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Referring to a fellow crewman who helped him haul Dessie aboard, Michael added: “I have to say Mr Davy Mulligan had rather lot to do with its capture but it was my idea to take it to Galway.

“I’ve done all I can to make his journey as stress free as possible but I’ll be glad to see him settled into his new home.”