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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Common Prawn Palaemon serratus

The common prawn has a semi-transparent body, making its internal organs visible, and is marked with darker bands and spots of brownish red. As with many other species of prawn, its shell extends forward between its stalked eyes to form a stiff, slightly upturned projection called a rostrum. This feature has a unique structure by which the common prawn can be distinguished from all other members of the same genus. The rostrum curves upward, splitting in two at the tip, where it has several toothlike projections on the lower and upper surfaces.

To either side of the rostrum there is a very long antenna that can sense any danger close by and is also used to detect food. Of the common prawn’s five pairs of legs, the rear three pairs are used for walking, while the front two pairs are pincered and used for eating. Attached to the abdomen is a series of smaller limbs called swimmerets that the prawn uses to swim. For a sudden, backward movement, the common prawn flicks its tail. Females produce and look after about 4,000 eggs until they hatch into larvae. The larvae float among the plankton until they mature.

Common Prawn Farming

Nearly all the world’s farmed prawns come from developing countries such as Thailand, China, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Ecuador, which use chemical-intensive farming to meet demand. More environmentally friendly techniques are now being encouraged.

Common Prawnzoom image
  • Subphylum Crustacea
  • Length Up to 4 in (11 cm)
  • Habitat Rock pools among seaweeds and lower parts of estuaries
  • Distribution Eastern Atlantic from Denmark to Mauritania, Mediterranean, Black Sea
Common Prawn habitat mapzoom image