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Prawn Lobster Shrimp Scampi and Crayfish: What's the Difference Between Them?

By Edited Dec 13, 2013 0 0

They are all crustaceans and kinda look the same, so what's the major difference between them?

A General Introduction to Crustaceans

Crustaceans are a type of sea animals, that is, prawns, shrimp, scampi, lobster and crayfish, commonly associated with hard shells, spindly legs and sweet 'n' salty gravies. All kinds of crabs, prawns and lobsters belong to this group.  Crustaceans exists on all levels of the ocean, from bottom feeders that scrape from the seabed to seafarers that approach the shores, looking for suitable place to burrow in and stay for a nap. They grow in size by moulting their skin, slowly shedding old carapace and replacing it with a new one. It's kinda like us humans growing and replacing nails. Crustaceans are also "bilaterically symmetrical", in laymen's terms, they have similar and balanced bodyparts among their halves at the middle. So this is why crabs are considered as crustaceans too, like prawns - their halves are the same.

Crustaceans, despite having thick carapace and sharp pincers, are not aggressive beings. They mostly feed on smaller smaller creatures such as planktons. Some of them also search the seabed for leftovers by other species. Female crustaceans are generally smaller compared to males, and they carry their eggs on their bodies for a time before releasing the eggs out into the sea. Most of these are lost to other predatory animals or even other crustaceans due to the egg's small size, but some that survive will grow and survive for years.

Now, on to the creatures themselves. There are five crustaceans that will be discussed here. They are separated into two groups - the first is lobsters, crayfish and scampi and the second is between prawns ans shrimps. This is because most of the confusion results from the specieses inside the groups themselves. Most people already know that lobsters are not as same as prawns, for example, though they'll probably have never heard of scampi or crayfish before.

So whichever part you know, give this article a read and add more knowledge into your brain!

 

Lobster and Scampi - Similar Shape, Different Size!

Lobsters are generally well-armoured - their thick carapace protects them from threats, but slowed them down. It is their iconic body size that separates them from the rest of the crustaceans on this article. Plus, their large size is often after years of growing up - that lobster from the video above is believed to have been around for near a century - one hundred years!

So unfortunately, for them, that is what makes them a much prized and expensive delicacy. Only a high class restaurant can prepare and serve a creature of such size. Lobsters are therefore one of the best economic commodities that a coastal area can produce. One other factor that determines a lobster's price is that it has a weird mutation, where a select few apparently has a full blue carapace colour!

What's the difference then? Lobsters, scampi and crayfish physically look the same, especially since the three of them have twin pincers in front. They also tend to crawl on the seabed searching for food, as their large size often does not permit fast swimming speed. And one other thing, they have specialised claws as well. Often, one pincers are larger than the other and will be used more often. This is pretty much like human's hand, where one is more dominant than the other.

Lobsters live in the oceans. They are seawater animals and can only survive in a salty environment.

Crayfishes, meanwhile, is a freshwater crustacean. They are often found on the bottom of rivers and lakes.

Scampi, on the other hand, refers to the lobster's smaller sibling, which are habitated at Europe's northern oceans. These shellfishes are formally referred to as nephrops norvegicus - Norwegian lobster. Some other times, though, scampi can refer to a style of cooking as well. There's even a recipe for chicken scampi!
 
 

Shrimps and Prawns - What Separates Them Both?

Prawns and shrimps are crustaceans that thrive on the bottom of the lake, river or ocean. Depending on the each species, they both can be found in fresh and saltwater. Their size is smaller than those of lobsters so they can sometime be found floating among the drifting currents, with their tapered tails helping them navigate among the endless body of water.

Now, on to the characteristics that separates them both.

Prawns are slightly larger than shrimps. Their 'armor', or the hard carapace forming the outer part of their body, overlaps each other from the first segment. The biggest part is their head. This then overlaps with the second section, which is smaller. The second part then overlaps with the third part and so on.

On shrimps, meanwhile, have a more dominant second segment compared to prawns. This second segment overlaps with the first and the third segment, though their size are most likely smaller compared to the first segment. They are also slightly smaller than prawns, though some exceptions exist, since the first time looked on to separate them both is based on the aforementioned segment's overlapping.

That's the primary difference between those two. Cultural dissonance sets in though when deciding which name is given to these species. Depending on where you live, a prawn is a shrimp, and a shrimp is also a prawn!

Alright, this next section is not for those with a weak stomach, so feel free to skip it if you didn't like 'gooey' subjects!

Prawns and shrimps are also known as 'cockroaches of the sea'. Well, this is because, apart from their natural habitats, physical shapes and reproduction methods, there's not much else separating these two creatures. They both have exoskeletons, that is, outer shells, they have tiny spindly legs and they are both bottom feeders - eating on scraps left by others as well as consuming on the remnants of other, decaying creatures.

So the next time you ate some shrimps - try imagine that you are also biting on some delicious cockroaches, that protein filled, white gooey scavengers!
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