'Lobster Lady' from US state Maine is 101 years old and still going strong

Mrs Virginia Oliver goes out into the waters off the city of Rockland three days a week with her 78-year-old son Max. PHOTO: AFP
Mrs Virginia Oliver pilots her boat Virginia, named after her. PHOTO: AFP

ROCKLAND, MAINE (AFP) - In her boat off the north-eastern United States coast, 101-year-old Virginia Oliver expertly handles the slick body of a lobster as she snaps rubber bands around its claws, just as she has done since age seven.

The centenarian is the oldest licensed lobsterwoman in the state of Maine, and local historians describe her as perhaps the oldest active one in the world.

Mrs Oliver goes out into the waters off the city of Rockland three days a week with her 78-year-old son Max, who helps her crew the boat, aptly named Virginia after her by her late husband.

"I'm going to do (this)... till I die," said Mrs Oliver. "That's time enough. People say to me, 'Well, why do you go for it?' Because I want to. I'm old enough to be my own boss."

Mrs Oliver - known by friends as Ginny and to some as the Lobster Lady - has lived in Rockland her entire life and still lives on the same street where she was born in 1920.

"Ginny's awesome," said Mr David Cousens, a lobsterman and former president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association.

"Ginny has been fishing as long as I can remember, obviously. She's 101 years old, she's still going, about three days a week she's down here, she's usually here early in the morning."

Mrs Oliver is up at 3.30am and heading out to her boat by 5am. Either in her pickup or her son's 1956 Chevy, both drive down to a private cove and take their small dingy out to the lobster boat, which sits at a mooring.

Mrs Oliver and her son have a few hundred traps in the water and work together to bring in the lobsters. Mr Oliver hauls in the traps with a winch while his mother measures, bands and places the lobsters in the hold.

Wearing wellies, slickers and rubber gloves, she stands over the holding tank and grabs lobsters to inspect one at a time as her son passes them to her.

Once she checks a lobster is of legal size, she grabs rubber bands and a clamp using her left hand, and wraps the bands over the lobster's claws.

Mrs Oliver also sometimes takes the helm and captains the boat, but she would not steer if it is foggy.

At this point in their lives, Mrs Oliver and her son go out only in good weather, not like when they started and would go out no matter what the conditions.

Mr Max Oliver hauling in a lobster trap in Penobscot Bay, Maine, on July 31, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

"She's going all the time, she never stops," said Mr Oliver. "Always has been that way. She's wound-up all the time. She's always moving, busy all the time. It makes me tired sometimes just thinking about it."

The lobsters are brought in at the end of the day to the Spruce Head Fishermen's Pound Co-Op, which helps the mother-son team get a better price at the wholesale level.

Mrs Oliver has no plans to stop any time soon.

"Well I don't want to be in a wheelchair," she said.

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