Travel

Aboard a Shrimp Boat in Coastal Mississippi – All About Shrimping

I am feeling completely Forrest Gump as we board a shrimp boat on a sparkling sunny day in Romantic Coastal Mississippi.

“There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That — that’s about it,” Bubba (Forrest Gump)

We were guests of Visit Coastal Mississippi on a media trip while in the state and received food, accommodations and excursions in exchange for story consideration here.

Fresh Seafood

Shrimp is my favourite fruit of the sea.

There’s nothing quite like fresh seafood and the Gulf Coast has some of the freshest in the world. Gulf Coast shrimp is juicy and plump, unlike what we have at home in southern Ontario, Canada. So, when I took a trip with three other travel writers and influencers back in late 2019 and spied this shrimp boat tour on my itinerary I was curious and excited to learn something new about one of my favourite foods.

What did I actually know about shrimp? Not that much, it turns out.

A Favourite Choice

Shrimp is versatile and you can add it to so many dishes. I love that about shrimp, but I rarely am able to eat it at home because my husband has a seafood allergy. So, when I travel for business or pleasure with girlfriends or on a media adventure, I am all in when it comes to seafood.

Boats in Mississippi Sound

In Coastal Mississippi I boarded a shrimp tour boat with friends and we learned a few curious facts about shrimping.

So how do they fish for shrimp and what does that look like?

All Aboard

This was a shrimp boat tour, so we were not actually out there to gather a whole mess of shrimp and feed an army or anything. We were just there to sightsee and learn about a key industry in the area. It’s also worth noting that everything was returned to the water after catching and observing for a few moments.

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On the tour after catching a jellyfish

A Few Shrimp Facts

Water temperature determines where the shrimp go.

Shrimping Ends in December

We are in Coastal Mississippi in the middle of a twelve day girl’s trip through the southern US. Coastal Mississippi is a brief visit but the food and the pace of life makes an immediate impression. Up and down the coast in Biloxi you will notice casinos, but if you venture further along the coast you will find a more romantic side.

This shrimp boat tour is a highlight for me while here for reasons noted above and because this is unusual excursion. Catching shrimp is not something this gal does every day. So, hearing all of these shrimp facts makes me happy.

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Today’s Catch

Anyways, because it is November, when we visit, the haul that the shrimp boat gets today is very small and it also contains a soft shell crab or two. It’s almost the end of shrimp boat season.

Migration

Shrimp migrate east, south and west, but not north, of course. Water temperature is trigger for growth.

Quantity of the Haul

Lady Brenda, the medium sized boat that we are on, will probably gather 600 to 800 pounds of shrimp in a season. It is in fact a working trawler, just not so much today, because we are late in the season.

Big shrimp boats go out for 4-5 weeks and they will bring back millions of pounds of shrimp. Beautiful Biloxi is the capital for US shrimp.

Everybody Loves Shrimp

Best not to buy shrimp in January or anywhere before May according to the captain of our ship.

As water temperature drops, the migration kicks off again.

There are Different Colours?


The difference between brown shrimp and white shrimp is the size of their antenna. Indeed that part is surprising, because the few shrimp that the boat captain pull out of the sound have gigantic antenna, not at all what I expected.

What is There to Know About a Shrimp Boat?

If you are out on the water, you should never play chicken with a shrimp boat. They might not look like much from the shore if you are boarding one but fully extended and loaded with shrimp it can be formidable.

Keeping Track

There are transponders on all the shrimp boats out there to be sure they are not breaking the law fishing where they are not supposed to.

What’s the Lifespan of Shrimp?

Shrimp live two years, but that’s rare. In fact, the average lifespan is 9-12 months. Baby shrimp take 3-4 weeks to develop and mature. They range in size when fully grown, depending on the type of shrimp anywhere from 5 to 9 inches.

Is There a Quota on Shrimp?

We don’t worry about shrimp conservation, the captain says. Shrimp eat more shrimp than anything else. Shrimp are the biggest threat to shrimp. They eat plankton and other shrimp.

There’s no quota on shrimp in the Gulf Coast. It’s more driven by common sense says the captain of the boat. About 95 % of all shrimp are consumed in the wild.

Gender

Shockingly, only about 1% of shrimp survive in the Gulf. A female shrimp lays about half a million eggs and about 3/4 of all shrimp are female. Weather determines shrimp gender. 

Ideal Conditions

Shrimp like a warm dry spring. In 2019, when we visited the coast, they’d just experiences a lot of freshwater and an algae bloom. That did not provide ideal conditions for shrimp to thrive.

Other Details

Ample parking available and the tour itself is affordable ($20 per person) and educational, which makes it more than worth the money.

Shrimp Boat Tour

In 1904, Biloxi was dubbed the seafood capital of the world. It’s only logical then that while you are here eating all of the great seafood, you investigate a bit further where it comes from. A shrimp boat tour is a brilliant way to spend a couple of hours and learn about the seafood industry while at it.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

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