Background – Habitat – TX Shrimp


Shrimp rely on various habitats during different life stages. Generally, brown and white shrimp prefer soft bottom substrate in which to burrow. Muddy substrates with decaying vegetation provide food for the shrimp. They can tolerate mid-range salinities (from 10 ppt to 20 ppt), and white shrimp tend to prefer lower salinities than brown (Turner and Brody 1983). They also prefer temperatures above 15°C and harvest is highest in temperatures above 20°C. Pink shrimp prefer substrates composed of coral mud or substrates containing mollusk shells that may contain pink shrimp’s common prey. Pink shrimp can also tolerate salinities up to 47ppt (Bielsa et al. 1983).

Postlarval shrimp move into shallow waters of estuaries where they inhabit the marsh-water interface,  seagrass beds, or mangrove-water interface that provide protection and food (Turner and Brody 1983). Brown and white shrimp move into these areas at different times of the year, and times of peak movement vary across the Gulf (Turner and Brody 1983). Postlarval brown shrimp move into estuaries from January to June, while white shrimp emigrate during the late spring and early fall. Some white shrimp may migrate from estuaries to nearshore waters to overwinter, and then move back into estuaries in early spring (Gaidry and White 1973). Postlarval pink shrimp tend to move into estuaries in the spring and late fall (Bielsa et al. 1983). While in the estuaries, shrimp feed and grow. As they grow, they gradually move to deeper waters and, once they reach a certain size (approximately three and a half inches for pink shrimp, three to four inches for brown shrimp, and four to five inches for white shrimp), they migrate toward the Gulf to spawn (Turner and Brody 1983). This migration is influenced by tides, lunar cycles, maturation state, and estuarine temperature ranges (Gaidry and White 1973, Blackmon 1974).

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