SunSpecial: Ghost Writer   Leave a comment

At this time of year, suddenly all types of strange and unfamiliar creatures begin to appear around us…witches and goblins; monsters and skeletons; ghosts and superheros (you have to admit, some of those superheros are rather strange. And why do they all wear tights?). But of these, one isn’t just a Halloween symbol – they are with us everyday, in almost countless numbers, and in places you’d never think to look. Beware – it’s the attack of the Ghost Shrimp! (Who you gonna call?)

Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes) are a genus of caridean shrimp – the types of shrimp we all know and love – but these spooky shrimpies are not the type of crustacean you’d typically find at the all-you-can-eat-buffet. Numbering over 1000 different species, ‘Ghost Shrimp’ is really just a nickname (better than ‘scooter’); although the species all are very similar, each has its own name, behavior, and habitat, which range from Europe to Africa to the Americas; from fresh water to seawater and even isolated within caves. Often with dingy, translucent brown or almost transparent bodies (if they ever get sick, it saves a lot of money on X-ray costs), the phantoms of the puddle typically live in brackish conditions, a mixing of salt and fresh water. Naturally these transition zones are some of the most productive and nutrient-rich areas of any aquatic environment, and shrimp have a very important job eating plant and animal matter; recycling these materials into elements needed by plants (it all comes down to poop!); and as tasty snacks for otters, raccoons, and other seafood lovers. However changes made by man – like damming rivers, diverting water through irrigation canals, and even sewers and plumbing – have created new, but not quite as healthy environments, for these aquatic apparitions; and despite their un-appealing looks and spooky name, one day there might be more ghosts of shrimp then there are Ghost Shrimp.

Because what’s really haunting is the demand for shrimp has grown so much in so short a time the natural sources of shrimp are quickly becoming depleted, and today shrimp farming, partcularly in countries with little regulation or oversight, has become a huge industry. In fact most, if not all the shrimp we eat, probably came from a farm. And not the nice type of farm with green fields, but possibly overcrowded, often dirty, antibiotic- and hormone-clouded tanks, nets or large containers with little circulation so the shrimp have to live their short lives swimming in their own waste. Until they’re taken out, packed in crates, shipped thousand of miles, and served at the local restaurant. With a story like that, it sounds like neither the shrimp, nor the restaurant guests, stand a Ghost of a Chance.

Bay Ghost Shrimp, the stuff of nightmares.  Or appetizer platters.

Bay Ghost Shrimp, the stuff of nightmares. Or appetizer platters.

Posted October 27, 2013 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SunSpecial

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