Gulf shrimp season has officially arrived, and the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition predicts that Gulf shrimp fans can expect a plentiful supply this year as a result of extended growth periods. Extending growth periods is a common practice among the five Gulf States to ensure adequate supply.
“In our samples [that we collected], the abundances look better than the last couple of years,” says Chris Blankenship, director of the marine resources division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Program Administrator of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission. “We opened more waters mid-June with confidence that Gulf coastal harvests will be stronger and more bountiful due to the extended growth period.”
Long-adored for their exceptional and versatile flavor, there are five types of Gulf shrimp that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico waters described as the following by officials:
- Brown shrimp represents the majority of shrimp caught in the Gulf of Mexico and can be found throughout all five Gulf States year round, with peak season from May through September.
- White shrimp is prized for its large size, tender texture and mild flavor. It is great for shrimp boils, barbecue shrimp as well as other preparations where it can soak in the flavors of the dish allowing its texture to stand out. Peak season for white shrimp lasts from May through November.
- Pink shrimp is tender and sweet, and make up the majority of Florida’s wild-caught shrimp. It is the largest Gulf shrimp species. Its peak season is from January through June.
- Rock shrimp is a deep-water cousin of the wild pink, brown and white shrimp. It’s named for its tough, rock-hard shell, which resembles a miniature lobster tail. Rock shrimp is most prevalent between July and November, peaking in September.
- Royal red shrimp is unique for its deep red color and soft, delicate texture. It is harvested 40-60 miles off the Florida shore, which makes harvesting quantities limited. Peak season is from late summer to fall. Royal red and brown shrimp can be used interchangeably.
For the on-the-go Gulf shrimp fan, the Coalition has created a Gulf seafood finder app for iPhone and Android devices. The easy-to-use app provides listings of retail stores, restaurants, wholesalers that carry Gulf shrimp and other Gulf species. Additionally, Gulf seafood fans will find more than 100 recipes within the finder app that are searchable by species, preparation time and more.