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Commercial and recreational marine fisheries
Featured Shellfish - Spot Prawn

 Featured Shellfish May 2010

Spot prawn, Pandalus platyceros

Prawn or Shrimp? Although it is known as a “Spot Prawn” to fishers, markets, and fishery managers, the scientifically accepted common name is actually “Spot shrimp”. In either case, they are large and have spots (on abdominal somites 1 and 5)

Where can I catch them?

Spot prawns are the target of an exciting fisheries in Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. In those areas spot prawns exist in worthwhile densities at depths and in weather conditions that allow recreational harvest. Oregon grounds offer no such luxuries. Spot prawns are generally found far off shore in depths beyond 500 feet and in densities that necessitate an amount of gear to be used that would be considered unruly by most sport boat owners.

Where can I find them?

A small amount of commercial fishing does exist in Oregon, and the good news is that if you can find Oregon caught spot prawns they are amongst the largest shrimp found on the planet. A world record 65 mm carapace length prawn has been measured and 4 count (per pound) has been recorded.

A short but complicated life

Spot prawns, like many Pandalid shrimp, are protandrous hemaphrodites. This means that they initially mature as males and later in life become females. Prawn eggs hatch in late spring, settle in shallow waters, as they become mature males (within a year and a half) migrate to the deep rocky adult grounds. At age 2-3, males begin to transition into females, where they can often carry 2 or more broods before dying. Lifespan of 4-5 has been described in Washington and BC, however Coastal populations appear to live longer.

ID Photo


Spot prawn UW
Spot Prawn
basket of prawns
Spot Prawn
spot prawn ages
Spot Prawn Ages

Other Oregon Pandalid shrimp

Spot prawns are from the Pandalidae family. This is the same family of other important shrimp to the Northwest such as Pink shrimp, Pandalus jordani, which is the largest commercial shrimp fishery (in some years, the largest fishery) in Oregon and Dock shrimp (aka. Coonstripe shrimp), Pandalus danae, which are lightly fished commercially and recreationally (i.e they do not occur very densely anywhere).

Several other Pandalid shrimps are found in Oregon including those shown below.

Pink Shrimp - Pandalus jordani

Pink shrimp are the target of one of Oregons largest fisheries. As opposed to spot prawns who thrive on rocky habitats, pink shrimp like the sand and mud bottoms of the continental shelf.

More on the pink shrimp fishery

Pink shrimp
Pink shrimp

Dock Shrimp - Pandalus danae

Dock shrimp, Pandalus danae, are also often referred to as Coonstripe shrimp. There is another “Coonstripe shrimp” (Pandalus hypsinotus) which is a fishery target in Alaska, but does not range within Oregon.. Oregon’s Dock shrimp can be found in shallow depths (0-300’), most densely at sand/ rock interfaces. There are very few areas which can be successfully fished. Gear used in the fishery is light and soak time should be at least a day, so a good weather window is necessary.

ID Photo

Dock shrimp
Dock (Coonstripe) shrimp -
Photo courtesy of Larry Ellis

Side striped shrimp - Pandalopsis dispar

Side striped shrimp, Pandalopsis dispar, are occasional bycatch to pink shrimp and groundfish trawl fisheries. They are not found in commercially viable densities in Oregon, however fisheries exist northward.

ID Photo

side striped shrimp
Side striped shrimp

Rough patch shrimp - Pandalus stenolepis

A comparitively rare pandalid species, the rough patch shrimp, Pandalus stenolepis, is tough to find. This one is from the stomach of a cabezon, explaining its bad condition. The species name “stenolepis” translates from Latin to “narrow scale” which is a reference to its narrow antennule scale that differentiates it from Pandalus danae. Interestingly it is the same species name as Pacific halibut, which refers to their small scales.

ID Photo

rough patch shrimp
Rough Patch Shrimp

Smooth shrimp - Pandalopsis ampla

Most shrimps are not known to be smooth. Pandalopsis ampla is the exception. Its rostrum is without spines on the distal portion of the upper side.

ID Photo

smooth shrimp
Smooth Shrimp

Yellow Legged Pandalid - Pandalus tridens

Yellow legged Pandalid shrimp, Pandalus tridens, is a comparatively rare pandalid shrimp, they are occasionally found (as was this specimen) as bycatch in spot prawn. Its rostrum ends in 3 points, thus the species name "tridens".

ID Photo

pandalus tridens
Yellow legged Pandalid shrimp

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