Out of over 1900 species of shrimp, only 20 species are considered commercially relevant. In 1949, the discovery of pink shrimp off Fort Myers Beach changed the area and shrimping forever.
The San Carlos Island/Fort Myers Beach shrimp fleet offloads more Florida pinks than anywhere else in Florida, according to a 1999 study by the University of Florida. Shrimp connoisseurs consider the indigenous Gulf of Mexico Penaeus duorarum species among the sweetest harvest in the United States. Shrimp fisherman have considered it "pink gold" since the early 1950s.
That's when fishermen first discovered pink shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly thereafter, San Carlos Island - the small island between the southwest Florida mainland and Fort Myers Beach's main Estero Island - popped up as a makeshift village to provide the shrimping boats with food, ice, nets, repairs, equipment and other supplies. Docks and processing plants accommodated the offloading of the crustaceans for trans-shipment. A little town unto itself, that salty community still bustles along the island's Estero Bay shores.