Oh, the taste of wild-caught shrimp!
What makes wild-caught shrimp taste so good? Plain and simple, it’s all about the nutrient-rich waters of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Ocean. There’s just really nothing like them. The pristine waters of the Gulf and South Atlantic are embedded with a unique flavor profile that is absorbed into shrimp to provide an unmistakable, robust taste. Consider these waters like ginormous salinity pools of natural seasoning — 615,000 square miles teeming with succulent shrimp that are clean and sweet all because they are pulled from a natural environment free from harsh chemicals. Also, wild shrimp feast on a wild diet, which only enhances the taste and provides a high-quality product that is truly matchless in flavor. Of course, once chefs get their hands on the backyard blessing, shrimp are taken to another level and transformed into an array of delicious dishes. Whether they are paired with a touch of this, a dash of that, or a toss in a savory sauce, wild-caught shrimp are in a culinary league of their own.
The design of a shrimp boat is intricate. From the outriggers that are lowered on each side to the specialty-crafted gear that holds the nets open underwater, all play a vital role in the success of a good day on the water. However, the most critical element to any shrimp boat is the trawl nets used to bring in fresh catch daily. The construction of these nets is unique because not only does it perfectly glide across the floor bed of the ocean to catch wild shrimp, it’s also designed to protect other marine life that share the same environment. As part of federal regulation, all U.S. shrimpers are required to use trawl nets equipped with a TED — Turtle Excluder Device — that safely guides sea turtles through an escape flap. This ingenious mechanism has proven to be 97 percent effective at excluding sea turtles of all sizes. To protect other marine life like red snapper or any finfish, a BRD — Bycatch Reduction Device — also is installed to provide a small opening at the top of the net for fish to escape. No doubt wild-caught shrimp are the best, but it’s all about shrimping environmentally smart!
Want to learn more about how a shrimp boat operates? Check out this video.
Wild-caught shrimp so good and so healthy
It’s a well-known fact that shrimp ranks No. 1 as the most popular seafood in the world, and for good reason. Not only are wild-caught shrimp laced with palatable flavor as a result of its natural habitat, but also the nutritional value and health benefits of these tasty crustaceans are impressive. In fact, it’s pretty much a dieter’s dream food — amazing taste packed with the perfect nutrient-rich combination for one’s well being. Shrimp are low in fat, low in calories, have zero carbohydrates, and are significantly high in protein. For example, 4 ounces of boiled or steamed shrimp contains 112 calories, offers nearly 24 grams of protein, and only has 1.2 grams of fat. And no worries about cholesterol either! Research has shown the “good fats” (omega-3 fats) in shrimp reduces cholesterol impact. In addition, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support is wonderful for the body thanks to two unique antioxidants: astaxanthin, which is the color pigment in shrimp responsible for the red and orange colors, and the mineral, selenium. Other nutritional elements in shrimp include Vitamin D, B12, B3, iron and zinc. So, eat up and enjoy! There really is nothing like the hearty flavor and healthy composition of wild-caught shrimp.
Typical Annual Distribution of Harvest
(When to buy what kind of shrimp)
- There are five species of Gulf shrimp: brown, white, pink, royal red and rock.
- A shrimp’s life cycle is approximately one year.
- Gulf shrimp are in season year-round, with peak season being May – September.
- A shrimp’s heart is located in its head!
- Ounce for ounce, shrimp have fewer calories than chicken, beef or pork.
- Shrimp is the most popular seafood eaten in the U.S.
- Shrimp are a great source of iron, zinc and omega-3s.
- Gulf shrimp accounts for 69% of U.S. domestic shrimp.
- Female shrimp can lay thousands of eggs at once, and they only take 3 – 10 weeks to hatch.
- Adult shrimp range from 3 – 9 inches in size.
- Shrimp swim backwards!
- Shrimp are crustaceans related to lobster, crab, krill and crawfish.
- Shrimp are a sustainable species because there is a new crop available every year.
- The life span of most shrimp is between one and two years.
- By federal regulation, shrimp trawl nets must be equipped with a TED (Turtle Excluder Device) and a BRD (Bycatch Reduction Device).
- There are more than 1,900 species of shrimp, but less than 20 are important for commercial purposes.
- Rock and Royal Reds represent a very small portion of shrimp harvested in Gulf waters when compared to the abundance of Brown, White and Pink shrimp.
- Allegedly, the largest shrimp ever caught measured nearly 16 inches and was purchased for $800 by a Columbian biologist.
- Biology breakdown > Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Crustacea; Order: Decapoda; Family: Caridea
- Americans consume around one billion pounds of shrimp every year.
- Depending on the species, shrimp either burrow in the sand or mud, into rock and coral crevices or live inside sponges.
- A shrimp’s body is divided into two regions: the cephalothorax (a fused head and thorax) and the abdomen.
- The abdomen has five pairs of “swimmerets,” which are also called pleopods and are used for swimming; a pair of uropods, which also is used for swimming; and a telson, which is the tail.
- Female shrimp can lay between 100,000 and one million eggs at one time.
- Female shrimp carry the fertilized eggs on their swimmerets until they hatch.
- When the term “deveining” is used to remove the dark line that runs down the back of the shrimp, it’s actually not a vein, but rather the shrimp’s digestive tract. This “vein” also is known as the “mud line.”
- Shrimp are invertebrates because they do not have a backbone.
- How many ways can shrimp be eaten? Baked, boiled, broiled, deep-fried, grilled, poached, sautéd, smoked, steamed, pickled, pan-seared, and even as pate.
- Less than 10 percent of the shrimp eaten in the U.S. comes from wild harvests, whereas more than 90 percent of the shrimp eaten in the U.S. are farm-raised shrimp grown within the country and other countries around the world.
- Shrimp can be purchased fresh or frozen and are available a number of ways: whole, headless, peeled, and peeled-deveined.
- Shrimp are prey for a vast number of species – even a barnacle can eat a shrimp.
- The most expensive thing on a shrimp boat is the diesel fuel.
- Shrimp thrive in the warm waters of the Gulf and can grow about an inch every seven to 10 days.
- Shrimp are a migratory species and move based on tide, wind, currents and water temperature.
- Shrimp season usually opens sometime between May and June and runs through December.
- The coastal waters off of Mississippi are known for an abundance of Brown and White shrimp.
- Brown shrimp are usually abundant May through August, whereas White shrimp are abundant September through December. This can vary every season based on the migration patterns of each species.
- Biloxi was once known as the Seafood Capital of the World.
- In 1949, the picking machine revolutionized the processing aspect of the shrimping industry when 1,000 pounds of shrimp could be de-headed, deveined and peeled every 15 seconds.