Coonstriped Shrimp — Sea Forager

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Coonstriped Shrimp

(spring – summer – fall)

Sometimes simply refered to as “coonies” or dock shrimp.

The Meat

These are the sweetest, most buttery and delicious shrimp of ’em all. Like any shrimp: grill, fry, boil, steam, add to paiea, gumbo etc. Only thing is, they are so buttery and sweet it seems a shame to hide their flavor with a lot of other stuff.


You can shell and de-vein all your shrimp and it will be a royal pain in the ass and will take a long time. I personally never shell and de-vein coonies. I cook them whole and deal with the shells while I’m eating ’em. Yes, this can be a bit messy. That’s all part of the fun!

Gear and fishery info

Trap. Shrimp fisheries are a huge problem globally. This is of course due to the fact that shrimp are small. Because they’re small, the mesh on shrimp nets is small. So unfortunately it’s not just the shrimp that get killed in a shrimp trawl, it’s everything larger than the mesh size of the shrimp net. Globally it is estimated that something terrible like 12-25 pounds (if I’m off here, I’m not off by much) of fish die for every pound of shrimp caught by trawl. Seriously. And many millions of pounds of shrimp are caught globally. To make matters worse, shrimp farming is potentially even more destructive to coastal marine ecosystems as shrimp farms destroy native mangrove forests. Ecuador has lost something like 75 percent of it’s coastal mangroves in the last 30 years to shrimp farms. Part of the reason that the tsunami in Indonesia had such a devastating effect was that there were no mangroves to cleanse and filter the waters as they receded, creating a breeding ground for pestilence and disease. Recently, there have been a few experiments in more sustainable shrimp farming practices, but how do you know that your shrimp came from one of these places? You don’t.

But again, our local coonstriped shrimp are trap caught. And due to the size of the entrance of the trap, there isn’t a whole lot else that can fit into it. In fact, the only other thing that fits into a coon-striped shrimp trap, just happens to be everybody’s favorite cephalopod, octopus. Every now and then I will include an octopus or two along with your shrimp.


Our coonstripe shrimp are sometimes caught by Captain Sean Cross on F/V Smeagol

Fish Nerdism 101

Most coonstripeds are most commonly caught at depths of 20 and 30 fathoms (120-180 feet), but are often found much deeper or shallower. I have actually caught them inside the bay near Fort Baker. “Coonies” range from Sitka Alaska to San Luis Obispo, Ca. They prefer sand or gravel substrate in areas of high current. This species should be the patron saint of our trans-gender community because, as protandrous hermaphrodites, (good term, look it up) many of them mature as males and then switch gender after about a year. All coonstriped shrimp are female at age three, and few, if any, survive into their fourth year. The season is closed every year from November to April to protect gravid females. Their diet is largely unknown but they probably feed on a variety of benthic/planktonic life forms much like other shrimps.

Health concerns

None that I know of. Shrimp are low on the food chain. A lot of folks are allergic to shrimp so be careful.

Parting Shots

It’s hard for me to describe how excited I am about these shrimp. First of all, the fact that I can provide you with locally caught shrimp (and the occasional local octopus!) is a serious feather in my cap. San Francisco is known for many things seafood wise: salmon, halibut, herring, dungeness crabs. What it isn’t known for is shrimp (not since the days of the Chinese shrimp fisheries of the 19th century).

Three years ago. My fishing partner Mikey and I decided to give coon-striped shrimp fishing a whirl. Kenny bought us the license, we got a few traps and, sadly, found out we were not the men for the job! We soon learned why so few people fish for shrimp in local waters. First off, they are hard as hell to find—and can be quite deep. Second, although they are plentiful, they don’t weigh much, so in order to catch enough to make it worth your while, you have to set out hundreds of traps. Because pulling in 300 shrimp traps requires a different type of winch than the ones that are found on most local (crab) boats, it can be a daunting task equipping the boat with the right gear. In any event, Mikey gave up on the shrimp dream, and that was the end of that.

Then one day this summer Kenny Belov my beloved brother in the fish, calls me at 7am and tells me: “You’ll never believe what I’m unloading right now. Coon striped shrimp!” It was Kenny who bought me the license years ago, and Kenny who was pushing us to take up coon striped shrimping in the first place. Well, I went down to the wharf and was really deeply happy to see fresh coon-striped shrimp—though I’m not gonna lie, I was turning a slight shade of envy-green.

In short here’s my summary of why this is so damned exciting:

  1. Right now there’s only a couple of boats doing this type of shrimp fishing in the entire Bay Area.

  2. Sustainable shrimp fishing is so rare it’s almost an oxymoron.

  3. They’re so damned delicious.



  • Scientific Name: Panadalus danae

  • Habitat: These shrimp are known to inhabit smooth mud and sand bottoms but can also be found on harder bottoms, commonly at depths from 30 to 300 feet.

  • Diet: It eats large zooplankton and small crustaceans using its 3 pairs of marillea (feeding hands) to scoop food into their mouth. They also have a small set of pinchers located on their second set of legs used for handling food. It primarily feeds on polychaetes, small sea worms with bristles, which it captures by charging or cornering.

  • Size: 2-5 inches.

  • Range: Coonstripe shrimp are found in northern coastal Pacific rim waters from the Bering Sea to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in the East, as well as between the Sea of Okhotsk to as far south as the Korea Strait, in the West

  • Class: Malacostraca

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