1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shrimp

SHRIMP, a name applied in general to the smaller crustacea of the order Macrura and in particular to an edible species found on the coasts of northern Europe (Crangon vulgaris). The shrimps and their allies are distinguished from the larger Macrura, such as the lobsters and crayfishes, by greater development of the paddle-like limbs of the abdomen or tail, which are used in swimming. The abdomen is usually sharply bent between the third and fourth segments and has a characteristically humped appearance when straightened out.

The common shrimp is found abundantly on the coasts of the British Islands, in shallow water wherever the bottom is sandy. It is 2 or 3 in. long, slightly flattened and with the rostrum or beak, in front of the carapace, very short. It is of a translucent greyish colour, speckled with brown and closely resembles the sand in which it lives. On many parts of the coast the shrimp fishery is of considerable importance. The instrument generally employed is a bag-shaped net attached to a semicircular hoop, provided with a long handle and pushed over the surface of the sand by a fisherman wading in the water at ebb-tide. When boiled, the body becomes of a brownish colour and on this account the species is sometimes termed the “brown shrimp.” The name of “pink shrimp” is given to Pandalus montagui or annulicornis, which turns red on boiling and which resembles in form the larger “prawns,” having a long rostrum or beak, saw-edged above and below. The smaller species of Leander, especially L. squilla, are sold as “cup shrimps” in some places.

The larger shrimp-like crustacea are generally known as “prawns,” the name being especially applied in Britain to the species Leander serratus, formerly called Palaemon serratus, which is highly esteemed for the table. In warmer seas many other kinds of prawns are caught for food. These are generally species of the genus Penaeus (like P. caramote of the Mediterranean) which are distinguished from all those already mentioned by having pincers on the first three, instead of only on the first two pairs of legs. The large river-prawns of the genus Palaemon (closely allied to Leander) found in most tropical countries are also often used as food. In the West Indies Palaemon jamaicensis, and in the East Indies Pal. carcinus attain almost the dimensions of full-grown lobsters.

The name of shrimps is sometimes given to members of the order Schizopoda, which differ from most of the Macrura in having swimming branches or exopodites on the thoracic legs. In particular the Schizopods of the family Mysidae, which are abundant in the sea round our coasts, are often called “Opossum-shrimps” from the fact that the female is provided with a ventral pouch or “marsupium” in which the eggs and young are carried.  (W. T. Ca.)