Menu
The Anatomy Of A Shrimp
Explore the small crustacean
that's had a huge impact.

Click a marker above to learn about the shrimp and its anatomy.

Carapace: The shell which protects the cephlathorax is harder and thicker than the shell elsewhere on the shrimp, and is called the carapace. The carapace typically surrounds the gills, through which water is pumped by the action of the mouthparts.

Antennae: Two pairs of whiskers (antennae) also issue from the head. One of these pairs is very long, and can be twice the length of the shrimp, while the other pair are quite short. The antennae have sensors on them which allow the shrimp to feel where they touch, and also allow them to "smell" or "taste" things by sampling the chemicals in the water. The long antennae help the shrimp orientate itself with regard to its immediate surroundings, while the short antennae help assess the suitability of prey.

Telson: The sixth segment terminates in the telson flanked by two pairs of appendages called the uropods. The uropods allow the shrimp to swim backwards, and function like rudders, steering the shrimp when it swims forward. Together, the telson and uropods form a splayed tail fan. If a shrimp is alarmed, it can flex its tail fan in a rapid movement. This results in a backward dart called the caridoid escape reaction (lobstering).

Pereiopods: These form the ten decapod legs. In Crangon crangon, the first two pairs of pereiopods have claws or chela. The chela can grasp food items and bring them to the mouth. They can also be used for fighting and grooming. The remaining six legs are long and slender, and are used for walking or perching.

Pleopods: Also called swimmerets, these can be used for more purposes than just swimming. Some shrimp species use them for brooding eggs, others have gills on them for breathing, and the males in some species use the first pair or two for insemination.

Abdomen: The muscular abdomen has six segments and has a thinner shell than the carapace. Each segment has a separate overlapping shell, which can be transparent. The first five segments each have a pair of appendages on the underside, which are shaped like paddles and are used for swimming forward.

Rostrum: The rostrum, from the Latin rōstrum meaning beak, looks like a beak or pointed nose at the head of the shrimps head. It is a rigid forward extension of the carapace, and can be used for attack or defense. It may also stabilize the shrimp when it swims backwards.

Eyes: Two bulbous eyes on stalks sit either side of the rostrum. These are compound eyes which have panoramic vision and are very good at detecting movement.

Chela: The first two pairs of pereiopods have claws or chela. The chela can grasp food items and bring them to the mouth. They can also be used for fighting and grooming.

The Pink Shrimp Life Cycle

Pink Shrimp

Farfantepenaeus duorarum

Description:

Shrimp are closely related to crayfish, lobster, and crab. The pink shrimp is the most abundant shrimp species harvested in the state. The two other species are the brown shrimp, found in murkier and often deeper water and the white shrimp. Pink shrimp actively swim, burrow and crawl. Overall body color is highly variable, but generally gray, bluish or red-brown. The sides of the animal are somewhat flattened. Shrimp are able to make a rapid retreat from predators by arching their bodies and flexing their tails as they whip through the water and quickly duck for cover. Their eyes are on the top of long flexible stalks and this helps them detect danger quickly. Their long antenna are used to feel their surroundings and help them sense danger.

Size:

Female shrimp are normally much larger than males. Large males can attain a length of 169 mm, and large females reaching over 280 mm. Individuals reaching sexual maturity may live a year or more.

Offspring:

Females lay 1,500 to 14,000 eggs and spawn in the saline waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Length of the larval stage is temperature dependant, around 3 weeks, and larvae go through a series of naupliar stages and then migrate into shallow, low-salinity estuaries, where they grow. As they mature, they gradually migrate again to their spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat:

Pink shrimp are especially abundant in seagrass beds in estuaries or can be found inhabiting the sand, sand-shell, or coral-mud bottoms in nearshore zones in coastal waters and estuaries from the region around Chesapeake Bay south through the Florida Straits and the Gulf of Mexico to Cape Catoche and Isla Mujeres on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Food:

Shrimp are opportunistic, omnivorous scavengers that consume copepods, small mollusks, benthic diatoms, algae, detritus, bacterial films, slime molds and yeast.

Facts:

  • Pink shrimp earned their name because they turn pink when cooked.
  • 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.
  • On a national scale, Penaeus duorarum, is one of the United States' most important commercial fishery species. The U.S. commercial harvest of wild-caught pink shrimp between the years 1987 - 2001 totaled 123.3 million metric tons, with a value of over $603.3 million (National Marine Fisheries Service database).