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 have not been assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and therefore have not been listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). However, under Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Precautionary Approach Framework, most populations are assessed as healthy. The only exceptions are the populations off the north coast of Newfoundland and in the Hawke channel (Shrimp Fishing Area (SFA) 6), which has been assessed as cautious, and the population in the Hudson Strait, which lacks sufficient data to be properly assessed so it is listed as unknown. Current estimates show that the majority of Northern shrimp populations in eastern Canada have declined slightly over the past few years, although they are still considered to be in a stable condition.