Northern Shrimp | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Northern Shrimp

Pandalus borealis

Also known as

Northern prawn, deepwater prawn, pink shrimp


Northwest Atlantic and northeast Pacific Ocean


Soft bottoms with features that provide protection

Feeding Habits

Foraging omnivore

Conservation Status

Not listed


Subphylum Crustacea (crabs, shrimps, and relatives); Family Penaeidae (prawns)


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Northern shrimp, also commonly known as northern prawn, are a sequential hermaphrodite. This is a term used for animals that start their life as one sex and change to the other later in life. In the case of northern shrimp, they are born as males and become females at around four or five years of age. This type of hermaphroditism is common in many other species of fish and gastropods (like snails and slugs). The common clownfish, like Nemo from the movie Finding Nemo, is another species that exhibits sequential hermaphroditism. 

Northern shrimp are a medium-sized shrimp. They are a pinkish red colour with no banding, unlike striped shrimp which are also found in Canada. They are slender and have a smooth body surface that is made up of a thin, hard outer shell, called an exoskeleton, which they periodically moult, or shed, in order to grow. They have several small spines on their rear abdominal segments, as well as on their rostrum, which is a horn-like projection that sticks out between their eyes. On average Northern shrimp grow to be about 5-10 cetimetres in length; however they have been known to grow as large as 15-16 centimetres long.