It's no secret that shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico are known for their incredible taste. These shrimp spend their lives in a nutrient-rich environment unlike any other in the world. But the Mississippi Sound in particularly productive oasis for shrimp along the Gulf. It's why the seafood industry grew in Biloxi many years ago and is why the area continues to produce a bountiful harvest every year.
Baby shrimp grow to adulthood due to an abundance of not only saltwater marshes along the Coast but the barrier islands that provide additional protection for these shrimp to grow up.
A paper studying this fact linked here states: "Quantitative surveys document that high densities of shrimps and blue crabs directly use northern Gulf marsh surfaces. Manipulative experiments demonstrate that such marshes provide these fishery species with increased resources for growth and with protective cover to reduce predator-related mortality."
According to an article by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks entitled: A Sound Like No Other: "The Mississippi Sound is the body of saltwater that extends along the coast from Dauphin Island in Alabama to Waveland, and it encompasses 113 square miles. It is bordered to the south by the barrier islands: Cat, Ship, Horn, Petit Bois, and Dauphin. The Mississippi Sound is isolated from the ocean dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico, with water exchange taking place through numerous passes between the islands...Estuaries like the Mississippi Sound have been called marine nurseries, as many species of fishes and invertebrates rely on them at some point in their lives."
The Mississippi Sound is in the "sweet spot" of the Gulf white shrimp habitat, and white shrimp are the type that Biloxi Shrimp Co. focuses on exclusively because of their wonderful taste.
Key Facts About White Shrimp (Source: NOAA)
- Almost all of the white shrimp harvested in the United States comes from the Gulf of Mexico.
- Annual harvests of white shrimp vary considerably from year to year, primarily due to environmental conditions. Harvests are much lower in years following severe winter weather.
- White shrimp were the first commercially important shrimp species in the United States, dating back to 1709.
- White shrimp grow fairly fast, depending on factors such as water temperature and salinity, and can reach up to 7 or 8 inches in length.
- They have a short life span, usually less than 2 years, and are often referred to as an “annual crop.”
- They are able to reproduce when they reach about 5 ½ inches long.
- White shrimp spawn when offshore ocean bottom water temperatures increase, generally from May through September in the Carolinas, and from March through September in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Males mate with females and anchor their sperm to the females. Females release about 500,000 to 1 million eggs near the ocean floor, and the eggs are fertilized as they are released.
- Newly hatched shrimp travel to their estuarine nursery habitats in April and early May.
- Shrimp that survive the winter grow rapidly in late winter and early spring before returning to the ocean.
- White shrimp larvae feed on plankton (tiny floating plants and animals).
- Juvenile and adult shrimp are omnivorous and feed on the bottom on detritus, plants, microorganisms, macroinvertebrates, and small fish. Cannibalism is also common among adult white shrimp.
- Sheepshead minnows, water boatmen, and insect larvae eat postlarval shrimp, and grass shrimp, killifishes, and blue crabs prey on young shrimp.
- A wide variety of finfish feed heavily on juvenile and adult shrimp.
So the next time you are enjoying your delicious Biloxi Shrimp, you'll know why they taste so good, and you'll have a few more interesting facts to share with friends and family!
Hungry for shrimp? Visit our Shop page to order wild-caught Gulf shrimp to be shipped to you anywhere in the country!
Jonathan McLendon, Co-founder of Biloxi Shrimp Co.