Rare white-eyed crawfish avoids boiling pot in Marrero

Crustacean living the high life in a cake pan now, Ducote says

You might get a black eye on your way to catch the red-eye, or maybe even contract pink eye from a brown-eyed girl, but have you ever in all your years seen a white-eyed crawfish?

Didn’t think so.

Harley Ducote hadn’t seen one, either — despite years working at a seafood processing plant. But all that changed this past weekend — when he stopped by Sal’s Seafood in Marrero.

“I know Sal, so whenever I need crawfish, I just go over there and clean a sack,” said Ducote, 56. “I was going through a sack of crawfish for me. He caught my eye coming down the conveyor belt. I seen him coming up, and I was like, ‘Hmmm, this is odd.’”

Ducote snared the unique mudbug destined for a boiling pot of water somewhere in the city, and ever since, the crustacean has taken up residence in a plastic cake pan on his kitchen table in Marrero.

“A person I work for in the crawfish business for 40 years now has never seen this before,” he said. “We’ve run across the blue ones and all that, but a white-eyed crawfish?

“Never.”

Turns out, the crawfish is relatively rare, according to Mark Shirley, an aquaculture specialist with the LSU AgCenter in Abbeville.

“It’s a genetic mutation that happens every so often. It’s rare, but it’s not totally unfounded,” Shirley said. “The eye color comes out white, but they’re not blind. They can still see. Just the pigment in their eyes is white.

“It’s just and oddity that exists in nature.”

Unlike the tough life it might have endured on the farm or swamp where it was harvested, the lucky white-eyed crawfish probably has its crustacean brethren turning absolutely green with envy at the treatment it’s receiving in Ducote’s home.

“I’ve been putting him in Kentwood water because I know chlorine out the tap water will kill it,” Ducote said. “Yesterday I went to get him some food, like the shrimp pellets at the pet store.”

Neighbors and friends in the seafood business have stopped in to take a look and snap pictures, and Ducote said the ivory-eyed mudbug definitely makes a strong impression on visitors.

“It’s pretty weird when you see him in person, especially at nighttime. When you walk by in my kitchen, you look at him and he’s kind of spooky,” he said. “Almost like a ghost.”

Ducote is trying to find out if LSU or the Audubon Zoo would like to take pictures of the crawfish or preserve the specimen, but he has definitely ruled out one future destination for the mudbug: It won’t end up on a platter with corn, potatoes and sausage any time soon.

“I’m not going to boil him,” Ducote said with a chuckle. “I’ve still got lots of guys having seafood businesses and they told me, ‘Man we’ve never seen that.’ They’re like, ‘Bring it over, we want to see it.’

“I said, ‘Y’all got to come to my house. I’m not traveling all over with this crawfish.

“He’s living better than me.”

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About Patrick Bonin 1315 Articles
Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.

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