E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Pandalus platyceros Brandt, 1851
Alaskan Prawn; California Spot Prawn; Spot Prawn; Spot Shrimp
Family: Pandalidae

Photo of species

© Aaron Baldwin  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4402)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Pandalus platyceros in British Columbia
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Species Information

The Spot Prawn is a true shrimp; it is the largest species of shrimp on the west coast of North America and the largest commercial species of shrimp (Cowles 2005, DFO 1999, O'Clair and O'Clair 1998). The large white spot on the abdomen is distinctive. Females are larger than males: at maturity, males are 2.8 cm long and females are 3.3 cm long (O'Clair and O'Clair 1998, Sempier 2003).




Spot Shrimp generally live for four years (DFO 1999). They are night feeders that are found in deep water during the day but move to shallow water at night to feed (O'Clair and O'Clair 1998). Juveniles feed in shallow water in the summer, primarily among kelp species (Cowles 2005), and move to deeper water as they mature (Sunada 1984).


Spot Shrimp feed on crustaceans, polychaetes, limpets, and carcasses (Cowles 2005).


Spot Shrimp change sex as they age (they are protandric hermaphrodites) and spend their first years as males, then in their third to fifth year they transform into females (DFO 1999, Sempier 2003). Breeding occurs in the fall--the female carries the eggs on her swimmerettes from October to April, when the eggs hatch; the larve spend several months in the water column before settling to the bottom, primarily in May and June (DFO 1999, Marliave and Roth 1995). O'Clair and O'Clair (1998) report 2,028–3,900 eggs per clutch. Kelp beds function as nursery habitats for this species in southern British Columbia (Marliave and Roth 1995).


Two important predators are the giant octopus Octopus dofleini and the yelloweye rockfish Sebastes ruberrimus (Cowles 2005).


This species is found in sandy and rocky intertidal areas to a depth of 487 m (Cowles 2005), DFO 1999, O'Clair and O'Clair 1998). Described as a “common inhabitant of deep sandy bottoms in the Rosario area” by Cowles (2005).



Global Distribution: This species is found in the north Pacific Ocean. In the eastern Pacific, they are found from San Diego, California, north to Unalaska Island, Alaska (DFO 1999).

BC Distribution: Found in rocky areas along the BC coast.


There is a significant commercial fishery in BC for this species (DFO 1999).

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Pandalus pubescentulus Dana, 1852

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Cowles, Dave. 2005. Pandalus platyceros page. Walla Walla University. Available online.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 1999. Prawn, Pandalus platyceros, off the west coast of Canada. DFO Science Stock Status Report C6-07 (1999). Available online.

Marliave and Roth 1995. Agarum kelp beds as nursery habitat of spot prawns, Pandalus platyceros Brandt, 1851 (Decapoda: Caridea). Crustaceana 68: 27-37.

O'Clair R.M and C.E. O'Clair. 1998. Southeast Alaska's Rocky Shores Animals. Plant Press, Auke Bay Press, Alaska. 564 pp.

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2022-06-30 4:36:03 PM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

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