G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) online

. (page 135 of 146)
Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 135 of 146)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ago no species had been recorded from most of the Western Territories, especially between the
Kocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, where if any Cray-fishes should be found in the future it
will be interesting to know whether they belong to the western genus, Astacus, or the eastern,

At present we know so little, comparatively speaking, of the invertebrate fauna of the rivers of
the Territories that it is not at all strange we should have so few records of Cray-fishes from them ;
but it is very probable that Cray-fishes exist there in greater or less numbers. New England, on
the contrary, has been too well explored to leave much doubt but that Cray-fishes are absent from
it excepting in the localities above cited. To enter into a discussion of all the species of North
American Cambarus would lead us away from the main object of this sketch, which is intended
principally to point out the range and habits of those species known to be eaten. Suffice it to
say that the species are more or less irregularly distributed, some States, or even sections of


Sates, having several species, and others again only one or two. Some species are very limited in
their range, while others are widely distributed. Cambarus acutus is an illustration of this wide
distribution, ranging as it does through a large number of the States from the Great Lakes
southward to the Gulf, and from Missouri eastward to the Atlantic coast. C. Bartonii ranges
from Canada to the District of Columbia and Kentucky ; C. obesns, from Illinois to Louisiana, and
from Missouri to New York and Virginia. C. affinis occurs in all of the Middle States and in
Maryland and the District of Columbia, and C. virilis extends from Lake Winnipeg, British
America, to Toronto in the east and Texas in the south. Very many of the species have been
recorded from only a single locality each, but this does not necessarily imply a restricted range,
as they may occur in other places in which no collections have yet been made.

ECONOMIC VALUE. Although Americans, as a rule, do not regard the eating of Cray-fishes
with much favor, these animals are probably used as food in many of the localities in which they
are abundant and can be easily obtained. The French in this country are perhaps the principal
consumers of this delicacy, as they are in Europe, where their own country can supply only a
small part of the demand, great quantities being annually imported into France from Germany
and other neighboring countries. In the United States the principal centers for the consumption
of Cray-fishes are New York City and New Orleans, and we have been unable to learn of any other
cities demanding a regular supply. New Orleans derives its supplies from the fresh waters near
at hand, but New York depends upon more distant sources. The Cray-fish season in New York
City begins early in the spring and lasts until fall, or until frost sets in. The first supplies come
from the Potomac Eiver at Washington, where the Cray-fishes are first taken soon after the
breaking up of the ice in the river. About June 1 the weather becomes almost too warm for
the shipment of Cray-fishes from Washington, and another more northern locality, Milwaukee and
vicinity, begins to send supplies to New York. In the early part of July, Montreal adds her
quota to the New York markets, and the shipments from these two latter localities continue as
stated above until into the fall. The Potomac Eiver Cray-fishes are larger than those from
Milwaukee, while the Montreal species is the smallest of all. The Milwaukee Cray-fishes are most
esteemed by epicures, their flesh being less coarse and of a finer flavor than any of the other
species sold in the New York markets. The Potomac species is the darkest in color when living,
but does not turn red by boiling, while the Milwaukee and Montreal species do. Small quantities
of Cray -fish are very probably brought to New York City from the State and from New Jersey,
but if so they do not pass through the larger markets, and there is no regular supply.

The Potomac Eiver Cray-fish sent to New York is the Cambarus affinis Erichson, and the
Milwaukee species is the Cambarus virilis Hagen. We have never examined specimens of the
Montreal species. The New Orleans market Cray-fish is the Cambarus Clarkii Girard, while the
San Francisco species, as already stated, is the Astacus nigrescens. One of the Lower Mississippi
Eiver species, either the Cambarus Clarkii or the Cambarus acutus, burrows into and causes much
damage to the levees of the river in the vicinity of New Orleans.

HABITS. Cray-fishes differ widely in their habits, and while some species prefer clear run-
ning streams, others live in more quiet waters, and still others upon muddy banks, where they dig
holes, and remain much of the time out of the reach of water.

Dr. C. C. Abbott has given us the following account of the habits of three of our commoner
species of Cray-fishes, which occur near Trenton, New Jersey. 1 They are Cambarus acutus, G.
affinis, and C. Bartonii, which have already been referred to as living in regions where Cray-
fishes are taken as food :

'American Naturalist, vii, 1873.


"It is difficult to say which of the three species is the most abundant in the general locality
wo have named, inasmuch as they seem to prefer different streams; one being a plant-loving, one
a stone-haunting, and the third n mud frequenting species. In their respective haunts each ia
apparenth as numerous as is either of the others in its chosen home. . . . We have found
('iini/Kinin m-ittiiK to frequent running streams which have masses of vegetation growing in them,
tin- animal in question resting upon the plants, usually near the surface of the water. We have
tuiinil sinee our Collecting excursions, on carefully approaching clear running streams, such as
just mentioned, that this Cray-fish is to be seen resting on the plants, always with the head
directed down-stream. If disturbed, they would dart backward, down to the roots, apparently,
of the plant upon which they were sitting. After a lapse of about ten minutes they would return
to their former resting place, creeping up the plant down which they had so suddenly darted tail

"The Cambarm affinia is apparently the river species of this locality. We have been able to
find it, as yet, only in the Delaware River, usually frequenting the rocky bed, but also, in fewer
numbers, on the mud bottomed portions of the river. They are usually found resting under flat
st mies, well out from the banks of the stream, where the water is of considerable depth.
Wherever the vegetation is dense, we have failed to find them ; nor have we seen anything to
indicate that it is a 'burrowing' species. . . . Cambarus Bartonii, it appears to us, is the one
burrowing species of this locality. We have found in the deep ditches, with precipitous, muddy
banks, a medium-sized Cray-fish, which in most respects accords with the species called Cambarus
Bartoiiii Fabr. by Dr. Hagen. . . .

" Cray-fish are strictly omnivorous animals, but, although excellent scavengers, do not feed
wholly upon decayed animal and vegetable matters. We have frequently noticed that C. Bartonii
in an aquarium breaks oil' the short stems of the common river weed, and eats the main stem,
after stripping it of its minute leaves. So the C. affinis, from beneath its sheltering flat stone, and
C. Bartonii, in its safe burrow, will seize the minute young cyprinoids, that pass up and down the
stream in such myriads, ever and anon peeping into the various little indentations in the banks.
Such little fish, when once fairly caught by the big claws but by no means clumsy ' hands' of a
Cambarux, have no chance of escape, and are soon torn to pieces."

Cambarus Bartonii described by C. Girard as C. Diogenes, constructs very interesting bur-
rows on the meadow flats of the Potomac River at Washington, which Mr. Girard describes as
follows :'

"The holes, as they appear at the surface of the ground, are nearly circular, from seven-tenths
of an inch to one inch and one inch and a half in diameter. The depth of the burrows varies
according to the locations ; this we generally found to be from sixteen inches to two feet, and
sometimes to three feet and more. The construction of the burrow itself is often exceedingly
simple; from the surface of the ground the excavation exhibits gradual slope, in direction more
or less undulating, for a distance of from five to ten inches, when it becomes vertical for six or
eight inches, and then terminates in a sudden bottle-shape enlargement, in which the animal is
found. The bottom of the burrows having no subterraneous communication, no other issue except
towards the surface, it is entirely isolated from its neighbors, and leaves no chance of escape to its
inhabitant. The same burrow may have several external holes connected with it, several inclined
channels, which, however, meet at the depth where it becomes vertical. We constantly found the
cavity full of water, but this was in March and April ; the bottom, for several inches, was filled
with a soft and pulpy mud.

1 Proc. Phila. Ad. Nat Sci., vi, pp. 88-90, 1854.


"We generally found a single individual in each burrow, it being either a male or a female,
the latter in March or April, carrying under the tail a bundle of her eggs. Sometimes, when
numerous individuals are gathered on a small space, it may happen that the windings of the upper
part of their burrows will accidentally meet and have in this case a comtuuuication which was not
contemplated. Each individual, however, remains in its own. apartment; so at least we constantly
found to be the case. To accomplish the act of breeding, males and females must come together
at one particular time. In one of the burrows which we examined we found a male and a female.
We are inclined to believe that the male quits its retreat and goes in search of the female, as one
individual of the former sex was found, at one time, walking over the surface of the ground.

"In the spring, and we are told in the fall also, the burrowing Craw-fish builds over the holes
of its burrow a chimney of the maximum height of one foot, but most generally lower. This
chimney, circularly pyramidal in shape, is constructed of lumps of mud, varying in size, irreg-
ularly rolled up, and piled up one upon another, and intimately connected together. Its exterior
has a rough and irregular appearance, whilst the interior is smooth and as uniform as the subter-
raneous channel, and having the same diameter as the latter. The cementing of the successive
balls of mud is easily accounted for when we bear in mind that the latter are brought up in a
very soft state, and that their drainage and subsequent solidification on their exposure to the
atmospheric air and rays of the sun are all that is required to unite these parts. . . . The
last touch consists in shutting up the aperture. This is accomplished by means of several balls
of mud brought up from underneath, deposited temporarily on the edge of the chimney and
drawn back in close contiguity, so as to intercept all communication with the external world.
The number of such chimneys is sometimes very great in one particular locality, distributed
without any geometrical regularity, and recalling to mind the scattered habitations or village of
a newly settled colony."


This species of Shrimp occurs on both sides of the Atlantic, and is eaten both in this country
and in Europe. It is, therefore, of considerable economic importance, though of less value than
the larger Shrimp (Peruem) of tue Southern States. Crangon vulgaris, on the American coast,
ranges from Labrador to North Carolina, and from low-tide level to depths of about fifty
fathoms. "It is found in greatest abundance in shallow water, and on sandy or weedy bottoms,
but occurs also on muddy, shelly, and rocky bottoms, and extends at least to about fifty fathoms
in depth. It varies much in coloration according to the location in which it is found. Upon the
exposed and light-colored sandy shores of Southern New England, specimens are invariably
translucent and very pale in color, so as to closely resemble the surface upon and beneath which
they live, while upon dark -colored muddy bottoms they are very much darker in color. Specimens
from a dark-colored muddy inlet of Vineyard Sound and others from dark muddy and sandy
bottoms at Halifax, Nova Scotia, are very dark indeed, the pigment spots covering nearly the
-entire surface, and the caudal appendages becoming almost black toward the tips." '

"When resting quietly on the bottom, or when it buries itself partially and sometimes almost
entirely, except the eyes and long, slender antennae, it cannot easily be distinguished by its
enemies, and, therefore, gains great protection by its colors. When left by the tide it buries itself
to a considerable depth in moist sand. It needs all its powers of concealment, however, for it is

'8. I. SMITH: Trans. Conn. Acad., v, p. 50, 1879.


eagcily hunted anil captured by nearly all the larger lislie.s whieh frequent the same waters, and
it eonstiiiites the principal food of many of them, such as the weak-fish, king-fish, white perch,
bluefish, flounders, striped bass, etc. Fortunately it is a very prolific species, and is abundant
along the entire coast, from North Carolina to Labrador, wherever sandy shores occur. The young
swim free for a considerable time alter hatching, and were taken at the surface in the evening, in
large numbers." 1

According to White, 1 the common Shrimp are in spawn on the English coast during the entire
summer; "the ova are of a dirty white color."

We have no published data as to the duration of the spawning season upon our coast, but
"the young are. hatched in the neighborhood of Vineyard Sound in May and June, and arrive at
the adult form before they are more than four or five millimeters long. Specimens of this size
were taken at Wood's Holl, at the surface, on the evening of July 3. Later in the season much
larger specimens were frequently taken at the surface both in the evening and daytime.

"The young of the different kinds of Shrimp, Crangon rulgaris, Palatmonetcx vulgarw, and
Virbius sontericola, when hatched from the egg, are free-swimming animals, similar in their habits
to the young of the Lobster. In structure, however, they are quite unlike the larvae of the
Lobster, and approach more the zoea stages of the Crabs. When they first leave the egg,
they are without the five pairs of cephalo-thoracic legs, the abdomen is without appendages,
and much as it is in the first stage of the young Lobster, while the maxillipeds are developed
into long locomotive appendages, somewhat like the external maxillipeds of the first stage
of the young Lobster. While yet in the free-swimming condition the cephalo-thoracic legs
are developed, the maxillipeds assume the adult form, and the abdominal limbs appear. The
young of these Shrimp are very much smaller than the young of the Lobster, but they
remain for a considerable time in this immature state, and were very frequently taken at the
surface in the towing-net." 3 '

Although Crangon rulgaris may be common in the southern part of its range (New York to
North Carolina), it has not been often recorded from that region, and in fact we know much more
about it on the New England coast, along the entire extent of which it is very abundant, though
somewhat less so north of Massachusetts Bay. About Halifax, Nova Scotia, it is again abundant
and of large size from low water mark to eighteen fathoms, on sandy, muddy, stony, and rocky
bottoms. It is common everywhere in shallow water and at low-water mark on most sandy
beaches in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. It also occurs in the Straits of Belle Isle. Since this
report was in manuscript. Crangon vuJgaris has been found by the Fish Commission to occur in
different parts of Chesapeake Bay in immense numbers and of unusually large size.

The common Shrimp attains a length of over two inches, exclusive of the anterior appendages,
but is generally smaller. In the neighborhood of New York and about New Bedford, Mass.,
it is taken as food. Northward from there it is, so far as we know, only utilized to a slight extent,
and for bait only. It may perhaps be taken on the southern coasts, where it occurs, in connection
with Penffiw, which is sent in large quantities to New York, but from all the information we
have been able to obtain, no notice is taken of it south of New York.

Mr. W. N. Lockington states that Crangon vulgaris is very abundant upon the Pacific coast
of North America, ranging from Alaska (Mutiny Bay) to San Diego, California. It is smaller than
C. francuicorum, with which it is found associated ; and it is also less abundant in the San

1 VEBKILL: Vineyard Sound Report, p. 339, 1871-'72.
1 Popular History of British Crustacea, 1857, p. 107.
S. I. SMITH : Vineyard Sound Report, pp. 528, 529, 1871-'72.
52 F


Francisco markets, although comprising no inconsiderable part of the total catch of Shrimp, and
at some seasons it is more common than its congener. The average length of the specimens
taken on the Pacific coast is said to be about two and a quarter inches, but large examples
exceed three inches in length. This form, which is a sort of color variety, is easily distinguished
from C. franviscorum by its black tail, and the large proportion of black upon its body, as well as
by the different form of the hand, the movable finger of which is much shorter and folds trans-
versely across the tip of the hand. From its black coloring it has received the name of " Black-
tailed Crab."

This Shrimp is taken on the west coast in connection with C.franciscorum, and is sold fresh in
the markets as well as boiled and dried for exportation to China.


According to notes furnished by W. N. Lockitigton, this is the largest species of Shrimp on
the Pacific coast of the United States, and is the Shrimp par excellence of the San Francisco mar-
kets, where large quantities are sold during nearly every month of the year.

The total length of the body, in the adults, ranges from three to three and a half inches,
while in the same the length of the carapax is about seven-eighths of an inch.

From the Pacific coast variety of Crangon vulgaris this species can be distinguished by its
larger size ; by the absence of the black tail and large black spots, characteristic of the former ;
by the small dots of dark tint which mottle the surface; and most readily by the much greater
length of the movable finger of the hand, which folds parallel with the side of the hand instead
of across its extremity.

Crangon franciscorum has a somewhat limited range, not being known from north of Puget
Sound, nor south of Point Conception, California. In San Francisco Bay and Tomales Bay it is
exceedingly abundant, frequenting especially the sandy coves along their shores. Not only is
this Shrimp largely consumed upon the coast when fresh, but it is also taken by the Chinese in
immense quantities and shipped to China after boiling and drying. The Shrimp industry affords
employment to a large number of Chinese, and constitutes an important factor in the export trade
of San Francisco. The Shrimp are usually caught in purse-nets, which are conical in shape,
about twenty -five feet long and ten feet across the mouth ; they taper to the lower end, which is
opened and closed by means of a "puckering string." It is said that no diminution in the number
of Shrimp results from the continuous fishing, although the edible species of fish are nearly
exterminated in San Francisco Bay.

A species of Hippolite (H. brevirostris), of a uniform light crimson or scarlet color, occurs at
the Straits of Fuca, in San Francisco Bay, and probably along the intervening coast. In San
Francisco Bay it is taken with the Grangons for food.


The common American Prawn, which closely resembles the English species, although occurring
in great abundance along some portions of our Atlantic coast, does not rank among our food
invi-rtebrates on account of its small size. It frequently makes up for that deficiency, however,
by its great abundance.

The average length of specimens is about one and one-half inches. The body is translucent,
almost colorless, but is "marked with irregular, ill-defined, dark blotches and spots, which
admirably adapt it for concealment among the discolored and dead leaves of eel-grass, at or near
the bottom," in which localities it is most abundant. The American Prawn differs from the


English, among otlu-r things, in the charactci -of its rostrum and in its smaller size. The rostrum
of the latter is <li\ idc <! r double at the tip, and specimens rauge in length from three to five

P. rult/in-is ranges from Massachusetts Bay to Northern Florida. North of Cape Cod, how-
ex IT. it is rare. It is very common among eel-grass, etc., in Vineyard Sound, Buzzard's I lay,
Fi>lici's Island Sound, and Long Island Sound. Thence it has been recorded from the south side
of Long Island, and from numerous points along the coant of New Jersey and the Southern States,
as far smith as Saint John's Kiver, Florida. The localities inhabited by this species are described
us follows h\ 1'iofosor Yen-ill: '

"The common Prawn has its true home among the eel-grass (in brackish water), and here it
occurs in countless numbers. . . . It is also very abundant in the pools and ditches (of the
imi<l(h shores in brackish water), even where the water is but little salt, and also occurs in
immense numbers on the muddy bottoms."

It likewise abounds on the muddy bottoms in pure salt water. On sandy bottoms iu both salt
and brackish water it often occurs associated with Crangon rulgaris, but not in large numbers.


Only two species of river Shrimp have yet been described from the United States east of
the -Mississippi River, and they seem to be used as food in only a few localities. At New Orleans,
however, one species, the PaUemon ohionw, is very much esteemed.

In this species, the carapax or anterior part of the body is smooth, stout, and considerably
swollen, with a short rostrum. Specimens from the Ohio River measured in total length of body
from two to three and one fourth inches, the carapax occupying about one-fourth of this length.
The original specimens from which the species was described were from the Ohio River at
Cauuelton, Indiana, where it is taken for food. Since then it has been found over a larger area,
including the vicinity of New Orleans.

I'lilirniiiiii-tm emlipes is a much smaller species than the above, measuring only about an
inch and a half in total length. It has been recorded from Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie; Ecoree,
Michigan; Somerville, South Carolina; and from fresh-water streams in Florida. It is probably
quite widespread in its distribution, but we are not aware of its ever having been used as food,
probably on account of its small size.


Leach ; PROPINQUUS, Sars.

These species of Prawns, which resemble one another very closely in appearance and
structure, are exceedingly abundant in the deeper waters of Massachusetts Bay, the Gulf of
Maine, and elsewhere off the coast of New England, the British Provinces, and southward as far
as Virginia, at least.

Pandalus bnrealis grows to a much larger size than the other three species, but all are large
enough to serve as food, and sufficiently abundant in the localities where they occur. Unfor-
tunately they never approach the shore, and the ordinary methods of taking shrimp in shallow
water will not answer for their capture. If some means of taking Them easily could be devised.
they would undoubtedly find a ready sale in the Boston and New York markets, for they have an
exceedingly good flavor.

Pandalun boreali* attains a length of seven inches. As to color, it is, according to Professor
Verrill, " thickly sprinkled with small, red, stellate spots, which, from closer aggregation, make the

1 Vineyard Sound Report. 1871-'72.


tail deeper in color than the rest of the body. The spermaries are purplish -red, the outer

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 135 of 146)