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Interesting Facts About Shrimp

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Among the bounty of creatures living in the world’s oceans, shrimp are perhaps the most widely known marine crustaceaShrimp exist in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, and colors. They comprise 2,000 species and are found in deep ocean waters, shallow tidal waters, and freshwater, in every region of every continent but Antarctica.  They are tiny, intriguing creatures living on the bottom of the oceans and play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of the sea.

mantis-shrimp

Photo of a Mantis Shrimp

There are thousands of shrimp species around the world.
Shrimp are primarily swimmers, not crawlers.

Size varies considerably by species.
Shrimp aren’t always so, well, ‘shrimpy’. While small shrimp are usually around ½ an inch in length (from head to tail), some varieties can grow to be 12 inches or longer. The tiger shrimp, an invasive species in the Gulf, can grow to be roughly the length of an adult’s forearm and has more tail meat than the average lobster.

Shrimp are excellent swimmers.
One of the fun facts about shrimp that you might not know is that these arthropods are actually quite good at swimming. They can propel themselves backwards quickly by flexing the muscles of their abdomen and tail, or swim forward more slowly using the appendages on the underside of their tail.

Some shrimp can loudly snap their pincers.
The ocean may look peaceful, but it can get pretty noisy below the surface when there are snapping shrimp around. Certain shrimp species are able to make a snapping sound that is louder than any other marine noise by hitting their large and small pincers together. It’s believed they do this to communicate with other shrimp or temporarily stun their prey.

Shrimp are omnivorous.
Shrimp typically consume microscopic plant and animal matter by filtering the water around them or sifting through the ocean floor. Certain types of shrimp also catch and eat small fish.

Shrimp are an important part of their ecosystem.
Shrimp are an important source of food for many crabs, fish, sea urchins, whales, dolphins, and seabirds. Some species of shrimp also have a symbiotic relationship with fish and clean parasites, bacteria, and fungi off their host.

Shrimp contain a cancer-fighting mineral.
You’ll want to keep this shrimp information in mind: if the small crustacean is a part of your diet, it may reduce your risk of developing cancer. That’s because shrimp contain selenium, an antioxidant mineral that activates enzymes to fight the growth of cancer-causing free radicals.

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Photo by Máté Molnár

Shrimp exist in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, and colors. They comprise 2,000 species and are found in deep ocean waters, shallow tidal waters, and freshwater, in every region of every continent but Antarctica.

They are arthropods—the shelled, segmented phylum that includes all insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. More specifically, shrimp are part of the order Decapoda. All decapods have ten legs, a trait shrimps share with their cousins—crabs and lobsters.

Large shrimp are often called prawns, and vice versa. While they look very much alike, shrimp are more closely related to crabs and lobsters than they are to prawns. Prawns differ in that they have three pairs of pincers rather than a shrimp’s two, they don’t have a pronounced abdomen bend, and they don’t “brood” their eggs—females release them right into the water.

Shrimp are primarily swimmers, not crawlers.

“Cleaner shrimp” survive by eating parasites and dead tissue off of other creatures. Many of these shrimp species live in coral reefs, where they hang out at what biologists call “cleaning stations”— places where fish, sea turtles, and eels go to be nibbled clean.

Shrimp can breed only after a female molts. A male deposits sperm on a female’s underbelly. The female releases eggs (25,000 to a million at a time), which pass through the sperm and are fertilized. She carries the eggs on hairlike structures on her legs, where they’re protected by the shell that soon regrows. Weeks later, the tiny hatchlings are dispersed into the water.

While most shrimp species live from 9 to 18 months, some, such as the North Atlantic shrimp, live to eight years.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Different species of shrimp can vary in the appearance of their physical characteristics. However, the bodily characteristics of the decapod shrimp are extremely common throughout the 2,000 different types currently known to exist.

Their bodies are divided into two parts: the thorax and the head. The two components are connected by the cephalothorax and a narrow abdomen. The body itself is protected by a hard shell known as the carapace. The mouth of the shrimp works in conjunction with its gills. Guarded by the hard exterior shell, the gills allow it to derive oxygen from the surrounding waters.

Its legs, eyes, and rostrum also grow out of their hard shell. In order to protect themselves from predators, shrimp possess a sharp beak or nose, called the rostrum, that extends off the head of their body. This beak also serves as a stabilizer when swimming backwards and forwards in the water.

SOCIAL STRUCTURE

Like fish, shrimp primarily travel, breed, and eat in schools.

They can easily adapt to new conditions in the water, accounting for their vast numbers in every ocean on earth.

Because of their small size, it is advantageous for them to stay in groups in order to protect themselves from larger predators.

Their actual size is typically between 0.1 and 2 inches in length

Despite their stature, these creatures can still fall victim to microscopic parasites.

They often develop mutually beneficial relationships with sea cucumbers or sea slugs in order to remove any ectoparasites.

Within their schools, there is audio communication that occurs as well.

Snapping and clicking is thought to play a role in both how they socialize and how they intimidate other marine life.

BREEDING

A single female shrimp is capable of producing a large number of offspring.

One shrimp can lay up to one million eggs in a single session.

The eggs take only two weeks to hatch.

Once born, the baby shrimp merge with the plankton in the environment in order to protect and feed themselves

until they are large enough to hunt in groups for larger particles for nourishment.

The large number of offspring is vital in allowing the species to flourish due to their short life-span.

The average shrimp will only live for one to two years.

HABITAT

Being an extremely versatile species, shrimp are able to thrive beneath the surface of any body of water as long as there is ample food.

They can survive in both freshwater and saltwater conditions.

These invertebrates tend to congregate in the largest numbers near coastal regions and in estuaries where the food supply is plentiful.

The type of species that is present in any location is typically specific to that region and adapted for the particular surroundings.

The majority of shrimp are marine creatures while a quarter of the shrimp population is found in freshwater sources.  Shrimp can survive in waters that are up to 16,000 feet deep.

Photo of a Harlequin Shrimp

Sources: Original Oysterhouse, Whalefacts.org, wwwportablepress.com

June 16, 2019 |

WHY SINGAPORE MIGHT BE THE MOST IMPORTANT COCKTAIL CITY IN THE WORLD

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Four hours after I land in Singapore, I am, once again, on a cocktail crawl. It’s a recurring theme in my visits here.

In the near-equatorial city, it’s a warm and sticky evening—spritz weather. So my first stop is Caffe Fernet, a venue its proprietor calls an indoor-outdoor Italian Balthazar, which is right on. I sipped a Campari-manzanilla spritz on the harborfront, with a front-row view of the nightly light show at Marina Bay Sands, the most striking mega-hotel on the city’s already-distinctive skyline. Read more

May 24, 2019 |

Ancient shipwreck is the first in Greece to be opened up to divers to explore

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As experts say it has further mysteries to yield.

  • The remains of a 5th Century cargoship has become the first ancient shipwreck in Greece opened up to public
  • It lies near Greek island of Alonissos and was laden with an estimated 4,000 amphoras when it sank 
  • The shipwreck is to become the first ancient shipwreck to be made accessible to recreational divers in Greece

Read more

May 23, 2019 |

6 Things to Know About Visiting the Caribbean During Hurricane Season

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Yes, you can have a great dive vacation during Atlantic hurricane season, but it’s crucial to be prepared for the possibility of a serious tropical storm. Here’s what you need to know before you make the trip. 

The conventional wisdom is that the Caribbean is a no-go zone during hurricane season. The conventional wisdom is wrong. Even though some parts of the year are more statistically likely to see hurricanes, that hardly means a strong tropical storm is guaranteed. Read more

May 22, 2019 |

Nudies and Blennies to Whale Sharks and Manta Rays

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Explore 700+ miles of the Sea of Cortez … and learn how to photograph it all!

Join award-winning photographer, Todd Winner, as we travel from Puerto Penasco to San Jose del Cabo and learn how to photograph the smallest of small critters to the largest of large mammals!

September 22 – October 4, 2019
13 Days / 12 nights
$3495 per person, quad occupancy

Read more

May 16, 2019 |

The Best Underwater Hotels in the World

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Sleeping with the fishes takes on a whole new meaning at these villas and suites located under the sea.

Over the years, plans for a fully-submerged luxury hotel, like the Poseidon Undersea Resort in Fiji and Hydropolis in Dubai, have been mapped out. But they’ve yet to become a reality for intrepid travelers. Until that happens, you can realize your dreams of living like the Little Mermaid or Captain Nemo in these floating villas with underwater bedrooms or suites that look out into aquariums everywhere from the Maldives to Shanghai. Read more

May 10, 2019 |
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