104-Year-Old Lobster Lady Has Simple Tips For A Long Healthy Life

Lobsters can’t hide from 104-year-old Virginia Oliver — Maine’s famous “Lobster Lady.” She’s been trapping the crustaceans for almost a century and is ready to catch some more this summer.

Oliver has renewed her commercial lobster license for this season, which usually runs from June to October, and plans to go lobstering again this year.

“I’m not going to retire, I’m going to do this till I die,” Oliver tells TODAY.com.

“(I like) being out on the water and being your own boss. I’m the boss.”

Virginia Oliver
Virginia Oliver measures and bands lobsters off Rockland, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Born on June 6, 1920, Oliver became famous at 100 after local filmmakers made a documentary about her, titled “Conversations with The Lobster Lady.”

She started lobstering at 8 years old, learning from her father and then working alongside her late husband. It was extremely rare back then for women to do the job.

“I’ve always been independent,” Oliver told TODAY in 2022. “I just like to do it.”

These days, she works with her 81-year-old son Maxwell on the “Virginia,” a boat named after her, as they drop lobster traps off the coast of Rockland, Maine. This year, they hope to start in July.

Her son hauls the traps, while Oliver’s job is to fill the bait bags and measure the lobsters — if the crustaceans are too small, they have to be thrown back into the water. A famous photo captured a lobster flying midair after Oliver expertly tossed it overboard.

Virginia Oliver tosses back an undersized lobster as she and her son, Max, haul together.
Oliver tosses back an undersized lobster as she and her son, Max, haul together on Aug. 10, 2021 in South Thomaston, Maine.Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe / Getty Images

Some people have jokingly wondered whether she’s actually summoning lobsters out of the water, Jedi style. “The Force is strong with this lobsterwoman,” “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill wrote on X.

Oliver drove a car up until she was 103 — the documentary shows her navigating around town in a huge pickup truck. She lives with her son and says she’s in good health.

The family celebrated her 104th birthday with cake and ice cream, says Wayne Gray, one of the documentary filmmakers who also assists Oliver during media interviews.

Her healthy longevity habits

Lifestyle matters because it’s not all about having good genes — Oliver’s mother died in her 50s, and Oliver’s father lived until his 60s.

The lobsterwoman shared these tips for a healthy long life:

Keep moving

Oliver says it’s important to stay active because otherwise “you’ll be in a wheelchair.”

She credits staying busy for her longevity.

When she and her son go lobstering, she works three days a week and wakes up at 3 o’clock in the morning to be ready to head out in the boat before sunrise.

“That’s been a lifelong thing for her to get up early,” Gray says.

Practice clean living

Oliver never smoked and she doesn’t like to drink alcohol. Her son sums it up as “clean living.”

When it comes to diet, she says her favorite foods include lobster, of course. The delicacy is a lean, low-calorie source of protein, and is packed with minerals, such as zinc, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and potassium, as well as B vitamins, according to Consumer Reports.

But Oliver pretty much likes to eat everything and doesn’t avoid any foods. She likes chocolate, which can boost mood and relieve stress. Other favorites include bean suppers, creamy peanut butter sandwiches and homemade chocolate doughnuts, according to Maine Women.

Spend time in nature

Hours spent in fresh air and on the sea water are part of the job. Oliver simply likes it, but there’s research to show it comes with important health benefits.

“If you are in a body of water, your internal state just becomes calm,” Dr. Natalie Azar, NBC News medical contributor, previously said on TODAY. Just being near water boosts mental health by creating a sense of awe and providing soothing sensory experiences, she added.

In the Blue Zones, places around the world where residents live extraordinarily healthy long lives, many people naturally spend time outside — walking, hiking, gardening — and get plenty of sunshine. That allows their bodies to produce sufficient levels of vitamin D, and it’s associated with less stress and better sleep.

Find your passion

“I do what I want to do,” Oliver says in the documentary.

It’s common for people to never retire in the Blue Zones. Many don’t consider what they do work because they enjoy their profession or occupation.

TODAY.com recently profiled a 100-year-old woman who still works 50 hours a week, and a 102-year-old resort co-founder who still maintains a regular work schedule.

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