Virginia Oliver of Rockland, Maine, has worked on the Atlantic Ocean hauling lobster traps for most of her life. While saying someone has been doing something for ‘most of their life’ may be an exaggeration in some cases, it certainly isn’t in Oliver’s.
Maine’s beloved “Lobster Lady” just celebrated her 103rd birthday and has already renewed her fishing license for the 2023 season. Her love of the sea and hauling lobsters began when she was 8 years old when her father took her along on trips with her older brother, according to multiple media sources.
Eventually, she married a fisherman named Max Oliver, and they worked together while she piloted the boat and helped pull traps out of the ocean. The couple worked side by side for more than six decades until Max died in 2006.
“He told everybody I was the boss,” Oliver told The Washington Post.
More than 90 years after her first voyage out into the vast Maine waters, Oliver still feels its call. Three days a week, an alarm gets her up at 3:30 a.m. The veteran lobster trapper insists that the three-day-a-week schedule is not because of her age. Five days a week just isn’t necessary.
“That’s a job,” she told Fox Weather in 2021. “And I don’t want that.”
These days, Oliver drives down in her pickup truck to the dock to climb aboard the Virginia, the boat her husband named after her all those years ago. The Lobster Lady now works with her 80-year-old son Max Jr. to cruise out and pull in their crustacean harvest.
Between them, the mother-and-son team has about 400 traps out in the water, Oliver said in a short film about her remarkable life. Pulling about 200 of those traps is considered “a good day,” she explained.
Once on the boat, she spends most of her time preparing the bait bags while her son drives the boat. She also measures the lobsters they bring on board to ensure they meet fishing guidelines and takes turns at the steering wheel. Then she bands them to keep them from snapping at her. But she knows it’s an occupational hazard and doesn’t worry too much.
As she prepares to start the 2023 lobster season, Oliver said she intends to keep doing what she loves.
“You have to keep moving,” she told The Washington Post. “I intend to do this until I die.”