Skip to main content

The majority of shrimp harvested for food in Florida belong to the shrimp family Penaeidae. The pink shrimp (Farfantepenaeus duorarum) is the most abundant shrimp species harvested in the state. This species generally lives in clear waters, especially in the area from west-central to southeast Florida. The two other species are the brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) and the white shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus). The brown shrimp is closely related to the pink shrimp, but the brown shrimp is found in murkier and often deeper water. The brown shrimp is caught mostly in northeast and northwest Florida. The white shrimp is also caught principally in northeast and northwest Florida, but it is generally found in waters that are muddier, shallower, and less salty than waters where pink shrimp and brown shrimp live.

Yes, usually both are pink shrimp. Bait shrimp are harvested from bays and estuaries when they are juveniles. Food shrimp are larger adults that are harvested after the shrimp move out of the bays and into nearshore and offshore waters.

At least two of the principal shrimp species harvested in Florida (the pink shrimp, Farfantepenaeus duorarum, and the brown shrimp, F. aztecus) are nocturnal. They burrow in the sediment during the day and come out to feed at night.

The nets used to commercially harvest shrimp also catch many other organisms, such as finfish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. When captured in shrimp nets, these other species are referred to as "bycatch." In order to reduce the amount of bycatch, Bycatch Reduction Devices, or BRDs (pronounced "birds"), must be installed in shrimp nets. These BRDs are designed to allow bycatch species to escape from the nets, while retaining the shrimp.

Unlike fish, shrimp do not have fins that enable them to swim, but they can certainly move around in the water. A shrimp "swims" by quickly pulling its abdomen in toward its carapace (body). This motion shoots them through the water. However, because of body configuration, it also means that shrimp swim backward.