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SHRIMP—The Endless Quest for Pink Gold

An—Important—New Book for the Shrimp Industry



Important?  Yes!  This book is likely to be read by a wider audience than any book ever written about shrimp.  Because so many new people will be introduced to shrimp through this book, it could possibly alter the public perception of “shrimp” in the United States.  That makes it very important for all of us in the shrimp farming industry—worldwide.  Plus it contains metric tons of good information on the biology and behavior of wild marine shrimp.  The authors, Anne and Jack Rudloe (more about them below) are first-rate storytellers, utilizing a crisp, ride-the-tides style to tell the story of commercial shrimp fishing in the United States.


They have written a book for a general audience that wants to know a little bit more about that little pink critter that is pushing chicken and beef around in their grocer’s display case.  They have also given the shrimp farming industry a special gift—new information on Penaeus vannamei.  More about that in a moment.


You’ll like their chapter on shrimp farming, but most of the book is about the history and current status of commercial shrimp fishing in the southeastern United States, from South Carolina on the Atlantic Coast to south Texas on the Gulf of Mexico.  The book discusses all the issues that surround the shrimp fishing industry, including the overriding issue of huge imports of farmed shrimp from Latin America and Southeast Asia.  The authors don’t take a stand on the issues; they report on them and tell the stories of real-life people caught up in them.  You get to draw your own conclusions.  The book’s not about the good, the bad and the ugly of shrimp fishing, or shrimp farming.  It’s about a disappearing way of life in the southeastern United States.


If you have anything to do with the shrimp industry in the United States, you can’t go wrong by purchasing this book.  For shrimp farmers in Asia who don’t understand the resistance to their product in the United States—read this book and you will understand.  Although the USA dumping tariffs may be coming to an end, you will have a better understanding of the people who instigated the tariff action after reading this book.  If you have a library of shrimp publications, this book should be in it.



Chapter Titles with Brief Descriptions


Going Shrimping

Jack Rudloe’s early shrimp fishing experiences (excerpt below)


About Shrimp

Stories about commercially important shrimp species


Glory Days

History and evolution of shrimp fishing in the United States


Shrimp in the Grass

Anne Rudloe attempts to farm mysid shrimp (excerpt below)


Microscopic Monsters

Shrimp Biology, Mating, Spawning, Larvae


The Shrimp Run

Shrimp are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna catch


Rock Shrimp and Spotted Prawns

A couple of unusual shrimp fisheries


Turtles, TEDs and Troubles

Shrimp fishermen adjust to federal regulations


Wetlands and Real Estate

The shrimp say, “We were here first”


In Search of the Perfect Prawn

Then along comes shrimp farming (excerpt below)


The Miracles of Chitin

Throw away the shrimp, keep the chitin



Shrimp Species Finds Long Lost Father


In Chapter Ten, The Search for the Perfect Prawn, the chapter about shrimp farming, the Rudloes reveal how good old Penaeus vannamei got its name:


“Years before farmers discovered Penaeus vannamei, a zoologist named Willard Gibbs Vanname had collected the first specimen.  The Yale professor was best known for his definitive monograph on sea squirts, his work with terrestrial and freshwater isopods and his work in ornithology.  In the obscure world of museum curators and carcinologists (those who study shrimp, crabs and lobsters), history records that on March 25, 1926, Dr. Vanname purchased a male white shrimp in the fish markets of Panama City, Panama, and pickled it for the American Museum of Natural History collection, where he was curator of marine invertebrates.  There it sat for five years, having turned red in the jar of alcohol, until a staff biologist at the museum, Miss Pearl Lee Boone, described it as a new species.  Apparently she admired Dr. Vanname, so she named it vannamei after him.  She declared it to be the analog of the North American white shrimp, Litopenaeus (= Penaeus) setiferus, that Linnaeus had described two centuries earlier.  Her paper went on to detail the spine and eyestalks and measured its legs, pinchers and male sexual organs.”



Book Gets Big-Time Endorsements


E.O. Wilson, Pellegrino Research Professor, emeritus, Harvard University and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize gave Shrimp a great endorsement.  Wilson said, “Shrimp: The Endless Quest for Pink Gold is a deep and expert look not only at an important human food source, but also of the fragile complexity of the ecosystem in which it is created.”


That unreadable quote at the top of the book’s cover from singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett says: “The Rudloes leave the Living Dock behind for a voyage to the land of Pink Crustaceans, and I for one am happy to be aboard for that voyage.”


Winston Groom, the author of Forrest Gump, wrote the forward for Shrimp.  He said: “Rich in stories of seamen and the sea, Shrimp tells a fascinating story not only of the little creature itself, but of all the trials and tribulations the intrepid shrimper goes through to harvest it up.  As scientists and marine biologists, the Rudloes know whereof they speak, and as writers, they have the talent and grace to make it interesting.  This is one of those rare books that will do honor to any bookshelf.”



The Authors


Jack Rudloe, a nature writer, has spent forty years studying marine life.  He was on the very first trawl for marine shrimp off the northwest coast of Madagascar.  His books include The Sea Brings Forth and The Erotic Ocean.  He has led expeditions to capture specimens for the New York Aquarium and collected on behalf of Harvard and the American Museum of Natural History.  Anne Rudloe, Ph.D., teaches marine biology at Florida State and has written for National Geographic and Smithsonian.  Her books include Butterflies on a Sea Wind and Priceless Florida.  Together, they run the award-winning Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory, in Panacea, Florida, USA.


In Chapter One, Going Shrimping, Jack Rudloe tells us a little about himself:


“At age 18, I managed to get a job collecting marine specimens for a biologist at a local university.  I went out with a commercial shrimp fisherman, hoping to find the specimens among the by-catch.  When Captain Nick hauled in the net for the first time, my life changed forever.  The sheer volume and diversity of life brought up from beneath the waves shocked and overwhelmed me.”


“Eventually, I began to send marine specimens to other universities, creating what would eventually become the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory, a marine biological supply and education center in Panacea on Florida’s north Gulf coast.”


In Chapter Four, Shrimp in the Grass, Anne Rudloe, describes her experiences while attempting to farm mysid shrimp for research labs:


“Like shrimp farmers everywhere, I realized that it was one thing to study life in the sea, but it was another matter altogether to try and manipulate it to meet some human goal.  All the ups and downs of farming, both physical and emotional, were becoming exhausting.  I tried not to take each setback seriously, and I vowed to keep trying.  I fixed the filter once more, or whatever it was this time.  And each sale gave me new energy to keep going.”


“By the end of the summer, our Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory finally had sold enough mysids to pay back the initial start-up costs, and we broke even.  But fall weather came suddenly, the temperature dropped, and we lost half the animals in one night.  To install heating would be expensive, and there would be no further earnings for months until the colony rebuilt.  More months of unpaid seven-days-a-week work.”


“In the end, the project failed.  The adults, used to the semi-natural environment I had developed in my system, didn’t reproduce well in the artificial environments they faced after being shipped to other labs.  Then the regulatory requirement to use this species for effluent testing was dropped, and the market vanished overnight.  It was finished.”


Information: Shrimp: The Endless Quest for Pink Gold (FT Press Science, ISBN 0137009720, $24.99, hardcover, 252 pages, January 2010).


Information: Laura Czaja, Public Relations Manager, FT Press & Wharton School Publishing, Publishing Imprints of Pearson Education, 1330 Avenue of the Americas, 35th Floor, New York, NY 10019, USA (phone 1-212-641-6627, email laura.czaja@pearson.com, webpage http://www.whartonsp.com/index.aspx).


Information: Jack and Anne Rudloe, Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratories, Inc., P.O. Box 237, 222 Clark Drive, Panacea, Florida 32346, USA (phone 1-850- 984-5297, fax 1-850-984-5233, email gspecimen@sprintmail.com, webpage http://www.gulfspecimen.org).


Source: Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, December 18, 2009.


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