Shrimp are a popular and abundant food source, with the shrimp industry providing an important job source on the Gulf Coast. High-protein and low-fat, shrimp are delicious and versatile. Shrimp have a life span of two years or less, but are prolific breeders. A single female lays 100,000 to 1,000,000 eggs at a time, which hatch 24 hours later.
Brown shrimp live in muddy, soft-bottomed coastal waters from North Carolina to Texas. They're found in fairly shallow areas, approximately 180 feet deep, moving to deeper water as they mature. Brown shrimp can reach up to 7 inches long. Exoskeletons are grooved along their backs and encircled by a purple band around their abdomen. Their tails are tinted red or green. Brown shrimp have a life span of about 1 1/2 years.
Inhabiting estuaries with muddy bottoms, an abundance of marsh grasses and rotting vegetation, white shrimp can grow to 8 inches long. Preferring very shallow waters -- less than 90 feet deep -- in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, they can occasionally be found in depths of up to 300 feet. Their color is pale gray with a yellow abdominal band and a green-tinted tail. Antennae grow to three times their body length. These shrimp live on average less than 1 year.
The majority of pink shrimp harvested inhabit Florida's coast, preferring warm water estuaries with hard sand or crushed shell bottoms. Grooved dorsal shells have a pink or red spot on each side, and their tails have a blue band around them. Living for about 1 year, pink shrimp spend time on the water's bottom to stay warm.
Royal Red Shrimp
Royal red shrimp are stocky shrimp living in the black, muddy sands of the Gulf of Mexico. Occupying deep, murky waters, royal red shrimp like cool temperatures of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually a deep crimson color, royal reds are sometimes gray with a pink tint. These large shrimp can reach 10 inches long. Royal reds have a short lifespan, living less than 1 year.
With thick, hard exoskeletons covered with tiny hairs, rock shrimp resemble small lobster tails. Seen mostly in Florida and North Carolina, they may be found as far west as Texas at water depths of 120 to 240 feet. Young rock shrimp stay near the rocky areas of jetties and beaches. Rock shrimp are small, averaging 4 inches long, with an average lifespan of 20 months.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images