I have been promising myself a trip to the local Fort Myers Beach shrimp fleet. Today was my chance. The shrimp fleet nestles in our back bay when not on extended trips into the Gulf. Most refer to harvesting shrimp as " fishing " or simply " shrimping ". The boats trawl for shrimp and typically stay in the Gulf for 30 days before returning to offload the catch.
Shrimp caught in the Gulf ( wild caught ) are a beautiful pink in color. Local shrimpers compete with imported shrimp mainly from Viet Nam. Most imported shrimp are raised in " shrimp farms " where millions of baby shrimp are held in ponds until adulthood. Shrimp do not do well in close proximity to each other ! To control disease they are sprayed with chemicals which allow them to live packed close together. The down side of this farming method is that the shrimp absorb the chemicals and turn a distinct " grey " in color. Nowhere is this more noticeable than side by side in the seafood section of your local market. The wild caught shrimp are pink and the farm raised shrimp are grey.
If the color seems unimportant as a way to determine wild caught and farm raised shrimp you need only taste both to understand the importance of the competing farming methods. Wild caught shrimp have a slightly sweet taste and a robust " shrimp " flavor. Never " fishy " unless well past their prime, firm to the touch and delicious to the taste buds !
The shrimp fleet is an important industry to Fort Myers Beach and southwest Florida. The boats are expensive to operate and working on them entails long hours under tough conditions. The big nets used during trawling require constant tending and mending.
If it sounds like I am a proponent of wild caught shrimp - I plead guilty as charged. Having had farm raised and wild caught shrimp I can say there is a huge difference ! I'll take the wild caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico any day !
I really enjoyed my time spent exploring the Fort Myers Beach shrimp fleet ! Next opportunity for a visit I will try to go below deck and see how these hard working guys & gals live aboard a shrimper ! Want to visit the fleet ? At the bottom of the Matanzes Bridge turn ( south ) onto Main Street. Continue south until you see " Shrimp Boat Lane " like the sign above. Enjoy !