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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Monster returns to the deep
Barney the lobster is released
Barney the lobster is released by divers
A monster lobster that was declared "too beautiful to cook" was returned to the sea on Wednesday.

The giant crustacean, nicknamed Barney, was measured at 96 centimetres (3 feet, one inch) in length when it was caught off Cornwall, in southwest Engalnd, in August.

It had been sent to a top London restaurant to make an expensive meal, but the head chef at Mayfair eatery took pity on the animal and passed it to the city's aquarium.

Now, Barney is back in the sea off Devon after being escorted into the water by one Jamie Oliver, head diver at the London Aquarium and no relation of the television chef.

Packed in ice

Barney, who experts say could be 60 years old, escaped from the stove after he was seen by the head chef at the Kaspia restaurant.

Barney the lobster
Barney was too big for a Mayfair chef's pot
William Cooper said: "It was too big and too beautiful to cook. I couldn't bring myself to do anything with it because he has been around much longer than I have."

The lobster was then taken to the London Aquarium to spend six weeks recovering from the trauma of being packed in ice and transported so far.

He was returned to the deep by a team of three divers. Jamie Oliver helped Barney settle into new surroundings off Wembury, near Plymouth.

New home

He said: "We found a nice rocky area of the seabed near a nice cave. He just stood around for a while getting his bearings and then he wandered off towards it."

The lobster is thought to be the largest ever landed from European waters.

The world's largest, only 10 centimetres (four inches) longer, was caught off Nova Scotia in 1977.

Although 60, marine experts say Barney could have another good 10 years ahead of him, providing he stays well clear of any lobster pots off the South West coast.

Click here to go to BBC Devon Online

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

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