Other than that that relating to fisheries, little research seems to have been done on west-coast shrimps and prawns. Thus, most attention in this section of the ODYSSEY will be on burrow-inhabiting forms (mud and ghost shrimps). These forms are no more closely related to shrimps than they are to many other decapod crustaceans but, for convenience, will be included in this section.  There are 3 main species of thalassinids (mud and ghost shrimps) and about 20 species of shrimps and prawns on the Pacific west coast, about one-quarter of which are commercially important. 

NOTE  so named because of their pale whitish-yellow or pale pink colour

NOTE  if you are wondering about the difference between “shrimp” and “prawn”, perhaps the following will help (or not...): 1) the older of the two names, schrympe or shrimpe (likely from the German “schrimpen” meaning to “shrink up”), has been in recorded use from the 14th C., while the word “prawn” has had a more recent origin , 2) shrimps are mostly swimmers while prawns are mostly walkers and, 3) shrimps are thought to be smaller and prawns larger.  The last is made clear in an entry from the Daily Telegraph newspaper in London in 1865 which states: “Our shrimps have most prawny proportions”.  If you are still puzzled, you can join other authors who get around the problem by referring to them all as shrimps. In the ODYSSEY, they will be referred to generally by the name used by the author of the particular research study being considered

  black dot
  video of coonstripe shrimp walking

CLICK HERE to see a video of a coonstripe "shrimp" Pandalus danae walking on the sea bottom. Note the different ways the legs are used by the shrimp.

NOTE the video replays automatically


black dot


© 2010 Thomas Carefoot

To learn about west-coast SHRIMPS: select a topic from the shrimp menu at the top of the page

OR: play the ANIMATION of the snail meeting the MUD SHRIMP

OR, if you want to see other animations: follow the snail on its ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map

  black dot

Shrimps and prawns along with isopods, crabs, barnacles, and amphipods (in order of appearance in the ODYSSEY) are classified in Subphylum Crustacea of Phylum Arthropoda:

Phylum Arthropoda (lit. “jointed legs” G.)

Subphylum Crustacea (lit. “crust or rind” L.), referring to the hard calcified exoskeleton

Class Malacostraca includes all the “advanced” crustaceans

Order Decapoda (lit. “ten feet” G.), referring to the presence of 10 legs that characterises the Order (includes crabs, shrimps, lobsters)
         Suborder Pleocyemata

Infraorder Thalassinidea (lit. “sea” G.)

Family Upogebiidae, including mud shrimps Upogebia pugettensis

Family Callianassidae, including ghost shrimps Neotrypaea, including N. californiensis, N. gigas, and N. biffari

Infraorder Caridea (lit. “shrimp” L.), including shrimps and prawns

Family Pandalidae, including coonstripe shrimps Pandalus danae, spot prawns P. platyceros

Family Hyppolytidae, including broken-back shrimps Spirontocaris spp., Heptacarpus sitchensis, H. brevirostris

drawings showing distinguishing features between west-coast ghost shrimps Neotrypaea spp.Family Sergestidae, including Eusergestes similus, a midwater-inhabiting vertical-migratingspecies

Family Crangonidae, including Crangon franciscorum, C. nigricauda

Family Thoridae, including the purported cleaner shrimp Lebbeus mundus

NOTE  formerly “Callianassa”, 3 species of which co-occur along the west coast from Alaska to Baja California: N. californiensis, N. gigas, and N. biffari. The last may be synonymous with N. affinis, a small ghost shrimp found in the southern California/northern Baja region that co-inhabits burrows with a blind goby Typhlogobius californiensis. Researchers in California are able to separate the first two species using genetic (allozyme) markers, but also provide a handy morphological distinguishing feature: length and shape of the distal outer edges of the eyestalks (see drawings).  Pernet et al. 2010 J Crust Biol 30: 323.

  black dot