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Species Name:    Penaeus duorarum
Common Name:           (Pink Shrimp)   



Kingdom Phylum/Division: Class: Order: Family: Genus:
Animalia Arthropoda Malacostraca Decapoda Penaidae Penaeus

Adult pink shrimp, Penaeus duorarum.  Photo courtesy of the Southeast Chapter - American Littoral Society.  


Species Name:
Penaeus duorarum (Burkenroad, 1939)

Common Name:
Northern pink shrimp; pink shrimp

Species Description:
Pink shrimp, like other members of the commercially important Penaeidae, can be distinguished from other families of shrimp due to their antennae, which are longer than their body lengths, and by their first three pairs of walking legs, which are chelate (Amos and Amos 1997). The integument is thin and translucent. Overall body color is highly variable, but generally gray, bluish or red-brown. The sides of the animal are somewhat flattened. The carapace has a medial carina that extends nearly to posterior end of carapace and is bordered by a broad, rounded groove on either side. The rostrum is somewhat thicker than in Penaeus aztecus and bears 6 - 7 sharp teeth on the dorsal surface. Ventrally, the rostrum may have 1- 3 teeth.

The abdomen has 4 - 6 carinate segments, with the carina of the sixth segment ending in a spine. A dark, distinct spot on the pleural junction between the 3rd and 4th abdominal segments can be used to distinguish this species from other members of the genus. The tail is edged with blue coloration, and the telson has a deep medial groove. There is significant variation throughout the geographic range for a number of characteristics including the width of both the carina and its bordering groove; the number of external spines; and the number of pentasmal spines in males.

The female thelycum is closed and is composed of 2 lateral plates and a medial protuberance. The male pentasma has distal ends that are curved and do not project free of the distolateral lobes on the ventral surface.


Other Taxonomic Groupings:
Subphylum Crustacea
Subclass Eumalocostraca
Suborder Dendrobranchiata


Regional Occurrence:
Penaeus duorarum occurs in coastal waters and estuaries from the region around Chesapeake Bay south through the Florida Straits and the Gulf of Mexico to Cape Catoche and Isla Mujeres on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.

IRL Distribution:
Penaeus duorarum is an important commercial species that is distributed throughout the Indian River Lagoon.


Age, Size, Lifespan:
Penaeus duorarum is sexually dimorphic, with large males attaining a length of 169 mm, and large females reaching over 280 mm (Williams 1984). Postlarvae that enter estuarine nursery grounds undergo rapid growth (Williams 1984), with growth rates slowing as shrimp age. During the warm summer months, young shrimp spawned in March or April were found to grow at approximately 7 mm per month, while older shrimp grew at approximately 5 mm per month. In large individuals (over 150 mm), growth per month is negligible (Iverson and Jones 1961).

Individuals reaching sexual maturity may live a year or more. Aging shrimp based on body size, Eldred et al. (1961) estimated that a 140 mm individual was approximately 1 year old, and that a 200 mm individual was approximately 2 years old.

Penaeus duorarum can be highly abundant throughout its range. Documented centers of abundance for this species are along the West Coast of Florida, the southeastern Bay of Campeche, and the area around Beaufort, North Carolina.

Pink shrimp actively swim, burrow and crawl.

Undeveloped ovaries in Penaeus duorarum females are flaccid. As ovaries begin to mature, ova develop and grow larger. A nearly ripe stage is marked by ovaries becoming large and an opaque white color that is visible through the integument. When fully ripe, the ovary contains rod-like refractive bodies and takes on a blue-green color (Cummings 1961). In the region around Beaufort, North Carolina, the northernmost extent of the breeding range, roe-bearing females appear in commercial catches from May through July (Burkenroad 1949; Williams 1955), indicating that there is only one spawning season in this population.

Further south, Cummings (1961) found that the Florida population of Penaeus duorarum was likely to spawn multiple times. In this population, peak spawning occurred from April through July; however, ripe females were also found at other times of the year. Spawning occurs at temperatures between 19 - 30°C, with increased activity taking place when temperatures are highest. As temperatures in Florida waters begin to cool in the fall, spawning activity shifts into deeper waters (Jones et al. 1970).

Shrimp weighing between 10.1 - 66. 8 g produce 44,000 - 534,000 eggs (Martosubroto 1974). Dobkin (1961) described egg and larval stages of P. duorarum. Eggs are an opaque yellow-brown in color and measure 0.31 - 0.33 mm in diameter. The hatching process takes approximately 2 - 3 minutes. There are 5 naupliar, 3 protozoeal, 3 mysid, and several postlarval stages.

The recruitment period in North Carolina extends from April through December and peaks June - November (Williams 1969). Postlarvae entering estuaries for recruitment are much more abundant at night than during the day, and tend to occur in surface waters rather than deeper in the water column (Williams 1969). Lunar influences also affect postlarval distributions, with more postlarvae found entering estuaries on new moons than during full moons.


Of the three closely related, commercially important penaeids (Penaeus aztecus, P. duorarum and P. setiferus), only P. duorarum is able to overwinter in estuaries in the northern portions of its range. Juveniles that overwinter in estuaries are subjected to temperatures as low as 3°C. In severe winters, many of these juveniles will be killed. Normally however, they typically survive the winter, though growth rates are significantly depressed.

Greatest nocturnal activity rates are observed when temperatures are 26 - 27°C. (Fuss and Ogren 1966). Activity is decreased significantly below temperatures of 14° C and ceases at temperatures below 10°C.

Winter burrowing enhances energy conservation in P. duorarum, and potentially increases the ability of an animal to withstand periods of starvation.

Young Penaeus duorarum are generally found in areas of higher salinity than its congeners P. aztecus and P. setiferus. Throughout Texas and Florida, P. duorarum is especially abundant in seagrass beds where salinity exceeds 20 ppt.

P. duorarum possesses better osmoregulatory capabilities than either P. aztecus or P. setiferus; however, its regulatory ability is diminished at temperatures below 8° C.


Trophic Mode:
Penaeus duorarum is an opportunistic omnivore that consumes copepods, small mollusks, benthic diatoms, blue-green algae, filamentous green algae, detritus of vascular plants, bacterial films, slime molds and yeast (Odum and Heald 1972).

Penaeus duorarum is likely to compete with other penaeid shrimp and with fish for access to invertebrate prey.

Pink shrimp are typically found in both estuaries and inhabiting the inner littoral zone along coasts. Primary habitats for adults are sand, sand-shell, or coral-mud bottoms from the intertidal zone to 35 - 64 m in depth. In some areas, Penaeus duorarum can be found at depths of 330 - 365 m (Perez Farfante 1969). Major fisheries for this shrimp are located in areas where bottom sediments are composed primarily of calcareous mud and sand (Hildebrand 1954, 1955). In laboratory studies, (Williams 1958) sub-adults were observed to have a preference for sand-shell, and loose peat over other types of substrata offered such as sand, shell, muddy sand, etc.

The youngest size classes of Penaeus duorarum seek out shallow, less saline areas in estuarine nursery habitats and are often found abundantly in seagrasses, with older shrimp more likely to utilize patchily distributed seagrass areas, and younger shrimp more likely to be found in areas with denser coverage (Murphey and Fonseca 1995; Sanchez 1997). As shrimp grow, they seek out progressively more saline areas, eventually migrating out of estuaries entirely and returning to offshore habitats.

Burrow size in Penaeus duorarum is correlated with body size, with large shrimp (130 - 140 mm) burrowing to depths of 50 mm (Fuss 1964).

Activity Time:
Sub-adults and adults show pronounced diel activity patterns, remaining burrowed in the substratum during the daylight hours, and becoming active in the water column in the evening. Hughes (1968) demonstrated that emergence from the substratum is highly synchronized in Penaeus duorarum, with the transition of light into darkness being the primary zeitgeber. P. duorarum also becomes active in the water column in daylight under highly turbid conditions.

Associated Species:
Young Penaeus duorarum are often found in association with seagrasses and marine plants. In the Carolinas, the seagrasses Halodule beaudettei (formerly H. wrightii) and Zostera marina, are two of the dominant vegetation types. Throughout Florida and much of the Gulf of Mexico, Thalassia testudinum beds commonly contain pink shrimp. Parasites and diseases of P. duorarum were reviewed by Couch (1978).


Special Status:
Commercially important.

Fisheries Importance:
On a national scale, Penaeus duorarum is one of the United States' most important commercial fishery species. The U.S. commercial harvest of wild-caught pink shrimp between the years 1987 - 2001 totaled 123.3 million metric tons, with a value of over $603.3 million (National Marine Fisheries Service database). The total commercial catch of pink shrimp in in Florida over the same time period was 98,300 metric tons, with a value of $492.8 million. However, the bulk of the catch was recorded from Florida's Gulf coast. Data show that approximately 95,700 metric tons of pink shrimp was harvested on Florida's Gulf coast, while 2,600 metric tons was harvested on Florida's east coast. The 5-county area of the IRL (Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties), accounted for over 51% of the east coast total, with 2.4 million pounds harvested, with a commercial value over $6.2 million.  

Figure 1 below shows the dollar value of the pink shrimp fishery to IRL counties from 1987 - 2001.

Figure 1.  Annual dollar value of the commercial catch of pink shrimp to the 5-county area
    of the Indian River Lagoon.


Figure 2. Total pink shrimp dollar value and percentage by county for the years
    1987 - 2001.


Volusia Brevard Indian
St. Lucie Martin Total
  Value Value Value Value Value Value 
YEAR ($) ($) ($) ($) ($) to IRL 
1987 $0 $0 $0 $20,839 $80 $20,919
1988 $0 $0 $3,288 $4,950 $0 $8,238
1989 $0 $0 $13,435 $24,442 $5,680 $43,557
1990 $0 $0 $4,934 $126,884 $2,462 $134,280
1991 $0 $26,629 $9,908 $150,866 $2,145 $189,548
1992 $0 $0 $6,209 $246,599 $739 $253,547
1993 $0 $0 $1,766 $351,089 $220 $353,075
1994 $0 $0 $2,426 $478,418 $0 $480,844
1995 $0 $3,636 $165 $273,527 $0 $277,328
1996 $0 $25,642 $0 $1,042,551 $2,688 $1,070,881
1997 $0 $35,355 $0 $633,023 $3,127 $671,505
1998 $0 $0 $0 $428,671 $0 $428,671
1999 $0 $0 $0 $688,657 $0 $688,657
2000 $0 $0 $0 $884,748 $0 $884,748
2001 $0 $0 $0 $715,684 $0 $715,684
Cumulative Totals: $0 $91,262 $42,131 $6,070,948 $17,141 $6,221,482

Table 1. Total dollar value of the IRL harvest of pink shrimp, Penaeus duorarum, between
    1987 -2001.


Volusia Brevard Indian
St. Lucie Martin
  % % % % %
YEAR Total Total Total Total Total
1987 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 99.6% 0.4%
1988 0.0% 0.0% 39.9% 60.1% 0.0%
1989 0.0% 0.0% 30.8% 56.1% 13.0%
1990 0.0% 0.0% 3.7% 94.5% 1.8%
1991 0.0% 14.0% 5.2% 79.6% 1.1%
1992 0.0% 0.0% 2.4% 97.3% 0.3%
1993 0.0% 0.0% 0.5% 99.4% 0.1%
1994 0.0% 0.0% 0.5% 99.5% 0.0%
1995 0.0% 1.3% 0.1% 98.6% 0.0%
1996 0.0% 2.4% 0.0% 97.4% 0.3%
1997 0.0% 5.3% 0.0% 94.3% 0.5%
1998 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 0.0%
1999 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 0.0%
2000 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 0.0%
2001 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 0.0

Table 2.  By-county percentage of the pink shrimp harvest for the years 1987-2001.


  Volusia Brevard Indian River St. Lucie Martin
Dollars $170,141 $6,070,948 $42,131 $91,262 $0
% 2.7% 97.6% 0.7% 1.5% 0.0%

Table 3. By county cumulative dollar value and percentage of total for the IRL pink shrimp
    harvest from 1987 - 2001.


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Report by: K. Hill, Smithsonian Marine Station
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Page last updated: July 9, 2002