Shrimp are the most important commercial fishery in Georgia, since they are worth more per pound than any other seafood caught by U.S. fishermen. Shrimp, with their delicious cousins crabs and lobsters, are crustaceans from the order Decapoda, meaning ten legs. The most common species of marine shrimp caught off the Georgia shore are brown shrimp (Penaeus aztecus) and white shrimp (Penaeus setiferus). The life cycles are relatively similar: Benthic (bottom dwelling) adults release their eggs freely into the offshore waters. Within a short time, the eggs hatch into planktonic larvae. After passing through several intermediate stages, the postlarval shrimp move into the estuary and adopt a benthic existence. They grow very rapidly, doubling or tripling their weight every month and assuming the adult form. As the water turns colder in October and November, they move through the sound to deeper waters offshore, where they migrate parallel to the shoreline. White shrimp account for two-thirds of the catch and brown shrimp make up most of the rest of the catch. Affecting the quantity and quality of shrimp is a complex interaction of factors, including temperature, salinity, circulation, and fertility of estuarine waters. Shrimp are caught by trawlers, which usually fish outside the sound limits due to shrimping regulations but are free to drag their nets close to the shoreline.
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