The Reason One Maine Woman Is Still Lobstering After 93 Years

We should all be so lucky to find a career that we love so much we could devote our lives to it, but who could ever anticipate a run like this? Virginia Oliver is the celebrated "Lobster Lady" of Rockland, Maine, according to Maine Woman Magazine. She turned 101 this year and may possibly be the oldest lobsterer not only in Maine, but in the world. 

Oliver began helping her father with his lobster fishing business back in 1928 when she was only 8 years old. Lobstering stayed close to her heart as she grew up, married, and raised her children. After World War II, when her husband Bill decided to quit his job to pursue lobster fishing full-time, she decided to join him. In a documentary about her life called "Conversations with the Lobster Lady," shared by Lincoln County Television via YouTube, Oliver says, "When I started out with lobstering, no women ever went. That was just the way I lived." In a boat named "Virginia," she and her husband lobstered side-by-side for decades until his death at the age of 90.

Today, Oliver continues lobster fishing on that same boat, now with her 78-year-old son Max by her side. In the documentary, Oliver can be seen steady and unperturbed on the tiny boat as it's rocked by waves, and she notes they go out three days a week even in foggy or rough weather. "Sometimes I've gotten wet to the gills, but I never get seasick," she says.  

'I do what I wanna do,' Virginia Oliver says

Virginia Oliver has seen a lot of change to the lobster industry over her life, and in the documentary "Conversations with the Lobster Lady" via YouTube, she notes, "They're not for the better." One change that has been good, according to Associated Press, is that lobsters go for a high price, unlike when she first began as a young girl and lobsters cost around 28 cents per pound. But other changes are threatening the livelihoods of lobsterers, like recent federal environmental regulations that severely restrict where lobster fishing is permitted (via The Maine Wire). 

The industry also comes with inherent difficulties, like getting up hours before dawn, brutal physical labor, and ocean weather extremes, as shared by Visit Maine. And of course, there are those pinching claws to watch out for! Oliver had to get seven stitches in her finger after one encounter. She also broke her wrist in a separate accident which has limited the use of her hand. Yet Oliver's still out there wrangling and banding lobsters on the boat.

So why is it that this amazing 101-year-old woman is still lobstering decades past the age when most people settle into retirement? Simply put, because she wants to! She cites a love of working on the water as well as her fierce independence. "I don't worry about somebody else, what they're gonna do. I do what I wanna do," she says. "You gotta keep busy, you gotta keep working."