Joseph Ali, 27, cradles an 18-pound lobster he caught by hand near the Huntington Beach Pier on Dec. 10, 2013.
A lobster diver made the catch of a lifetime Tuesday when he grabbed an 18-pound crustacean from the water off the coast of Huntington Beach.
Joseph Ali, 27, has been lobster diving for nearly a decade and said his most recent catch did not go down (or rather, come up) without a fight.
“As soon as I grabbed him, he just went straight to my face and wrapped around my body and my mask fell off,” Ali said. “At that point, instead of one hand, I gotta wrap my whole body around him and hug him all the way to the top of the water.”
He said calm, flat water along the Huntington Beach Pier inspired him to dive, so he grabbed his wet suit and jumped in. What he thought, at first, was a piece of the pier turned out to be a huge lobster.
Ali said he resurfaced and took several deep breaths before returning to the bottom to catch the crustacean, pictured at right.
Once he grabbed hold of the lobster, Ali said he suffered several cuts from the inch-long, razor-sharp spines lining the lobster’s tail. He said it felt like he was being punched in the stomach as he pulled the California spiny lobster to the surface.
It is believed the type of lobster Ali caught can live to be 50 years or older, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Some spiny crustaceans caught off the California coast have weighed in at more than 26 pounds, the department said. Lobsters weighing more than 5 pounds are considered trophy-sized.
“I consider this a trophy lobster,” Ali said of his catch.
“I plan to boil it and cook it, have some with my girlfriend and have a great dinner,” he added.
Lobsters can be caught legally off the coast of Southern California using hoop nets or by hand. All catches must be documented with the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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