We eat shrimp in our salads, burgers, boiled and just about anyway you can think of. Alabamians catch and eat a lot of shrimp but can you put a name on your shrimp just by looking at them?The three most common species of shrimp caught and landed in Alabama are from the Penaeus genus. Brown shrimp, P. aztecus, is the most common and starts being landed around the first half of June. Pink shrimp P. duorarum start in mid-summer followed by the white shrimp P. setiferus in the fall.The Alabama commercial shrimping industry lands millions of pounds of each of these three species each year. According the NMFS from 2000 to 2008 103 million pounds of brown shrimp were landed in Alabama worth $211 million dollars. For pinks the landings were 5 million pounds at $9 million dollars and for whites 44 million pounds at $101 million dollars. The weights for all species are with the head on and the value is ex-vessel. Ex-vessel value is the price paid to the fishermen. Apart from their time of availability, browns in June, pinks soon after and whites in the Fall, each species has unique physical characteristics that help identify them. Colors can be misleading so avoid these for exact identification.Looking from the top there are grooves that run along each side of the head. For the white shrimp these grooves run just to the base of the rostrum and they have antennae that are very long, about twice the body length. Browns and pinks are harder to tell apart. Both have grooves run almost the full length of the head with the antennae in each about as long as the body. About half way down the tail on the pinks there two spots, one on either side of the third or fourth abdominal segment. It’s these spots that give the pinks away. If you’d like more information about commercial catches try the Internet under ‘Shrimp’ or ‘NMFS landings’.There is a deep water species call royal red shrimp that are caught on the continental shelf in very deep water and believe it or not they are really red.There is another species called rock shrimp. If you like your shrimp tasty and enjoy a work out when you peal them give these guys a try.Some interesting facts about shrimp include: the average female shrimp can spawn up to 500,000 eggs a year, life span of a shrimp is up to two years – rarely three, shrimp grow from egg to adult in six to nine months and they spawn in the Gulf and their eggs are washed in on the tide.With the BP oil spill now affecting the nearshore and inshore areas its impact on the shrimp fishery may be severe.
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