Dave Cowles/Invertebrates of the Salish Sea
In low light levels of the deep ocean, the spot prawn appears black, making it invisible to potential predators.
- Carapace is translucent red-orange with white stripes on the thorax, and distinctive white spots on sides of its first and fifth abdominal segments. 
- The walking legs (pereopods) and antennae are banded dark red & lighter red or white. 
- Has 5 pairs of swimming legs (pleopods), and 5 pairs of walking legs.
- The first pair of walking legs have claws, the second pair has a longer left leg than the right one. 
- Grows to 15-27cm in length with females generally larger than males. 
- Found in the Northern Pacific from San Diego, CA to Unalaska Island, Alaska, and from the Sea of Japan to Korean Strait. [1,2]
- The maximum observed age is over 6 years old. 
- Aging and growth rate may be greater in temperate than colder areas. 
- This species is a protandrous hermaphrodite, so it is a male during the first 4-5 years of life and then changes to female. [1,2]
- Males can reproduce by the 3rd year and mate only once. 
- Females can mate 1-2 times. 
- Breeds in October after eggs are extruded on to female’s swimmerets; the female carries eggs for 4-5 months until hatching. 
- Eggs hatch over 10 days, the first 3-4 larval stages are planktonic, then settles.
- Lives in rocky habitats along the seafloor from intertidal to deep cold water at depths greater than 400m (~1312 ft). [2,3]
- Undergoes nighttime vertical migration to shallower waters to find prey, then returns to deeper water at sunrise. 
- Feeds on worms, algae, mollusks, sponges, other shrimp, & scavenges dead, decaying organisms. [1,2]
Spot prawn fisheries were established in the early 1930s when prawns were caught incidentally in octopus traps.
- Available from late February to September. [4,5]
Regulatory and managing authority
- As established by the Marine Life Management Act, the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) regulates the fishery, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) manages this fishery in state waters. [1,9]
- Trawl nets and oval or rectangular-shaped traps are used in this fishery. [3,4,5]
- Fishermen set strings with 10-50 traps onto the ground with anchors and buoys at one/both ends. 
- Traps are set at depths of 400-1,000 feet. 
Status of the fishery
- The fishery is managed sustainably and does not seem to be causing any negative environmental impacts. [3,4]
Potential ecosystem impacts
- There is little bycatch. [4,5]
- Spot prawn traps can possibly catch species of concern and disturb the bottom of the ocean, but bycatch is typically released without harm. 
Dry cooking methods help retain spot prawn “fat” in the finished dish.
- Most of the demand is for the meat, but it’s possible to eat the shell, tail, and head. 
Description of meat
- Has a sweet, succulent flavor. 
- Minimal preparation is recommended to let the naturally sweet and rich flavor to shine through. 
- It is popularly eaten raw, known as amaebi in sushi. 
- For some recipe suggestions, visit hunger-angler-gardener-cook or Van Isle Marina. [5,10]
- See table for info. 
- There are no known contaminants.
- Spring/Winter.