Animals -> Marine Invertebrates -> Crustaceans -> Shrimps


Several cultures are reported to have consumed small quantities of shrimp. These include Alaskan cultures and Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Newfoundland and Richibucto [1-4]. Inupiat caught shrimp with nets through cracks in the ice or collected them in large quantities when washed on shore. Often called whale food, shrimp were considered animal fare and frequently used as bait or given to dogs [3, 4].

Most ethnographic literature does not specify which species of shrimp were harvested, but northern shrimp is likely to have been important as an abundant and widespread species, which is currently commercially fished in the Arctic, north Atlantic and north Pacific [5].

Smooth skeleton shrimp are reported to have been caught by Nuxalk, but were not often eaten [6].


1.         Jacobs M, Jr., Jacobs M, Sr.: Southeast Alaska Native Foods. In: Raveu's Bones. edn. Edited by Hope A; 1982: 112-130.

2.         Mackey MGA, Bernard L, Smith BS: Country Food Consumption by Selected Households of the Micmac in Conne River Newfoundland in 1985-86. In.; 1986.

3.         Nelson RK: Hunters of The Northern Ice. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1969.

4.         Speck FG, Dexter RW: Utilization of animals and plants by the Micmac Indians of New Brunswick. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 1951, 41(8):250-259.

5.         Brose U, Dunne JA, Montoya JM, Petchey OL, Schneider FD, Jacob U: Climate change in size-structured ecosystems Introduction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 2012, 367(1605):2903-2912.

6.         Kuhnlein HV: Traditional and Contemporary Nuxalk Foods. Nutrition Research 1984, 4:789-809.

Shrimps include crustacean species, related to other decapods (lobsters and crabs), but also other shrimp-like amphipod species, like some skeleton shrimps. In North America, decapod shrimps include the northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis), occurring broadly in cold waters along both Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and amphipod shrimps include the smooth skeleton shrimp (Caprella laeviuscula) with a more restricted range along the Pacific coast. Shrimps can also be referred to as prawns and are called crevettes in French.

Decapod shrimps are differentiated from other decapods by having their second abdominal segment overlapping the ones on either side. They vary in size from 0.5 to 20 cm long. Skeleton shrimps have no reinforced carapace, a very slender, thread-like body with long appendages, some with claws, and are very small, between 0.1 and 1.5 cm long.

Decapod shrimps occur from the intertidal zone down to the deep sea and most are swimmers, but some are bottom-dwellers. Shrimps that are swimming are mainly active predatorors feeding on smaller crustaceans, while those that are bottom-dwelling usually scavenge either for animal or plant matter. Skeleton shrimps are most often found attached among seaweeds. Shrimps usually have separated sexes, but in some decapod shrimps, like the northern shrimp, females can go through an early male stage. Their reproduction involves copulation with the male transferring sperm to the female for storage. Eggs are fertilized as they are laid and are usually carried beneath the abdomen of the female until they hatch as planktonic larvae in decopd shrimps, while fertilized eggs are placed in a brood pouch and hatch as miniature adults.


Rainbow PS: "Crabs, Lobsters, Shrimps, and Allies". In: The Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Edited by Dawes ACJ: Oxford University Press; 2007.


Images provided below were obtained from: Encyclopedia of Life. Available from
Northern shrimp
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Supplier: Biopix
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network
Smooth skeleton shrimp
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Supplier: Caprellids LifeDesk
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network
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