Creatures of the South Louisiana Estuary: The Shrimp
©2010 Wetland Books – may not be copied in any way without permission
Shrimp? Who you calling shrimp? Well, I might be little, but I’d like you to call me Shev. I’m what they call a white shrimp, and I was born in the estuary waters of south Louisiana. Would you like to hear about my childhood?
I’m a juvenile crustacean (crus ta shun), but it seems like it took me forever to get to this point in my life. I started out as an egg that was released and fertilized, but because I was so tiny, I almost became supper for many other sea animals.
At first, I had no way to propel myself through the water, so I had to just go where the current took me. Lucky for me, I ended up in the shallow estuary waters that I call home. Everything I needed to survive was there waiting for me. There were lots of different kinds of water plants for me to hide in. There were also lots of tiny particles floating around for me to eat.
My swimming legs, called swimmerets, started to grow when I was about four weeks old. Then, I could sort of float and walk along the bottom, stirring up old plants and pieces of old sea life to eat. Honestly, you could call me the cleanup crew, because I ate just about anything I could find down there.
It’s a good thing I got my swimmers when I did. One day, while I was hanging onto a piece of eel grass, a big bronze fish with a big black dot on her tail cruised very, very close to me. She was sucking in water as she went by, and I had to hang on for dear life. Once she passed me by, I dove to the bottom and swam as fast as I could into a murky cloud, shaking with fright.
Then there was the time I was sitting on bottom, minding my own business and a big net fell on top of me. My faithful swimmerets paddled me out of there quick as they could, and once again, I was safe to tell you the story.
I’m almost one year old now, and soon I will have to catch a wave and head on out to the deep, salty water of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a big, cruel ocean out there, but I must go spawn so that more shrimp can be hatched, fertilized, and ride the current back into my hometown—the most excellent estuary system.