Today’s daily fun facts include a few little shrimp facts. Enjoy!
Shrimp exist in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, and colors. They comprise 2,000 species and are found in deep ocean waters, shallow tidal waters, and freshwater, in every region of every continent but Antarctica.
They are arthropods—the shelled, segmented phylum that includes all insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. More specifically, shrimp are part of the order Decapoda. All decapods have ten legs, a trait shrimps share with their cousins—crabs and lobsters.
Large shrimp are often called prawns, and vice versa. While they look very much alike, shrimp are more closely related to crabs and lobsters than they are to prawns. Prawns differ in that they have three pairs of pincers rather than a shrimp’s two, they don’t have a pronounced abdomen bend, and they don’t “brood” their eggs—females release them right into the water.
Shrimp are primarily swimmers, not crawlers.
“Cleaner shrimp” survive by eating parasites and dead tissue off of other creatures. Many of these shrimp species live in coral reefs, where they hang out at what biologists call “cleaning stations”— places where fish, sea turtles, and eels go to be nibbled clean.
Shrimp can breed only after a female molts. A male deposits sperm on a female’s underbelly. The female releases eggs (25,000 to a million at a time), which pass through the sperm and are fertilized. She carries the eggs on hairlike structures on her legs, where they’re protected by the shell that soon regrows. Weeks later, the tiny hatchlings are dispersed into the water.
While most shrimp species live from 9 to 18 months, some, such as the North Atlantic shrimp, live to eight years.
This story was originally published in Uncle John’s Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.