The sea creature known as the shrimp is widespread and abundant. While it is a forbidden food in some religious traditions, it is a common food in other cultures.
Although there exist thousands of species of shrimp worldwide, only around 20 of these species are commercially significant. The white-leg shrimp is the most extensively farmed species of shrimp.
Shrimp and other shellfish are among the most common food allergens. It is for this reason that some of the religions of the world include dietary rules that expressly warn against consuming these creatures as a source of food.
Tropical shrimp has become one of the world´s most valued seafoods over the past decade and accounts for 20% of internationally traded seafood products in market value. Shrimp fishing generates income for 900,000 fishermen worldwide with 1.3 tons caught annually.
In addition to its role as a food source, several types of shrimp are kept as water pets in home aquaria. Some are purely ornamental, while others are used to control algae and remove debris from the tank.
There exist thousands of species of shrimp that have adapted to a wide range of environments and habitats. They can be found feeding near the seafloor as well as in rivers and lakes. To protect themselves from predators, some species bury themselves under the seafloor by diving into the sediment.
They can survive for anywhere between a year to seven years. Most shrimp are lone rangers, but they have been known to form large schools and networks during the spawning season.
Eyestalk ablation is a practise widely employed in shrimp hatcheries to encourage female shrimp to produce more eggs. The practise, however, raises serious welfare concerns.
The work of postdoctoral researcher Simao Zacarias suggests that the eyestalk ablation procedure produces offspring that are more prone to disease. He argued that by providing high quality and nutritious feed to female shrimp in their pre-maturation stage, shrimp farmers can achieve a similar egg production rate without having to resort to eyestalk ablation.
Zacarias’ work is driven by the demand for better animal welfare practices in shrimp hatcheries; with ablation regularly cited as a major welfare issue by anti-aquaculture and animal rights campaigners.