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Article for May - June 2007

Sorting the Catch
by Ford Walpole

Shrimp Boats lined up at dockSouth Carolina's coast is home to three types of shrimp. According to David Whitaker, of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' Marine Resources Division, white shrimp account for 60 percent of the harvest and brown shrimp for 40 percent, while the landing of pink shrimp, much more common farther south, is miniscule here.

Tail pod coloring is one way to distinguish shrimp. White shrimp sport yellow and green, brownies boast green and red, and pink shrimp exhibit iridescent blue.

Brown shrimp and pink shrimp are known as groove shrimp, which possess slits, or grooves, on both sides of the tail. Shrimpers land the majority of brown shrimp from late June until early August. Brownies do not grow quite as large as white shrimp, but shrimpers feel they are a bit heavier for their size.

White shrimp are lighter in color, hence their name. Though all female shrimp carry roe, the May and June harvest of white shrimp is often called the roe shrimp crop, since, as Whitaker explains, this is the "primary spawning season" for white shrimp. He goes on to point out that the "largest landings for white shrimp occur from August to January," a period also known as the "fall fishery."

Ford Walpole teaches English at James Island Charter High School and the College of Charleston.

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