People are probably more familiar with the steamed, spiced version of shrimp rather than with any of the three live penaeid shrimp species: brown, pink, and white shrimp. They are difficult to distinguish, even to the trained eye, but can be distinguished by color (not very reliably), or the presence (or absence) and length of grooves along the back of the shell. They can get surprisingly large – over 10″- and are quite beautiful to observe. In addition to their striking color variations and antennae that can reach over a foot long, they are active and graceful swimmers.
Their much smaller cousin, the grass shrimp is very common in this area. They can be found amongst vegetation in the shallows of all of our local rivers in from near fresh water to full salt. They are an extremely important forage species for almost every near-shore fish species and many shore birds as well. And there are yet more species of shrimps less common but no less interesting, such as the sand shrimp, snapping shrimp, mantis shrimp (look up a YouTube video for them!) rock shrimp, arrow shrimp, etc. Without going Forrest Gump on you here, the point is there are many shrimp species in our area that inhabit very specific niches.
We intend to showcase as many species as possible in a new exhibit in our world of darkness gallery. We have several species in holding now and hope to be able to procure many more. I believe you will find them fascinating to watch (they are always busy doing something) and attractive as well. Look for them by the end of May!