Prawn Species


{ prawn /prɔːn/ noun }
A marine crustacean which resembles a large shrimp.
King Prawns – it’s good to be king.
Tiger Prawns – the impressive looker.
Banana Prawns – the appealing prawn.
Endeavour Prawns – Australia’s best tasting prawn.
School Prawns – distinctively sweet.
Australian prawn fisheries by prawn species

Prawn Species

Prawns are crustaceans with a shell, five pairs of swimming legs, five pairs of walking legs, three with claws, and a tail. In other countries they may be called shrimp.

There are many species of prawns in Australia, most in tropical and subtropical waters but only some prawns are caught commercially. Many prawn species live between 1.5 – 3 years, hatch at sea, spend their juvenile months in shallow nutrient rich waters and return to deeper water to mate. All prawns caught in Australia are fantastic eating; your choice depends on your preferences.  For species selection and fantastic Australian prawns recipe tips go to

Banana Prawns

Banana prawns (Penaeus merguiensis) are large white to yellow prawns found in tropical and subtropical coastal waters. The adults are commonly caught at 1417 cm in length and 2030g.  The adults are caught at depths of 1625 metres by demersal otter trawling over muddy and sandy bottoms in coastal waters and estuaries in autumn.

Banana prawns are very popular in Australian due to their light, sweet taste. They are perfect for Asian dishes and go well with spicy flavours, which makes them ideal for Thai-style coconut curries. Good news for lovers of hot and spicy prawn dishes, Banana prawns are a sought after choice by Australian consumers.

For full information about Banana prawns, flavour affinities and wine matching see Fishfiles.

Tiger Prawns

Tiger prawns include brown tiger prawns (Penaeus esculentus) (brown striped) and grooved tiger prawns (Penaeus semisulcatus) (dark green to dark brown striped) and found in all coastal waters to depths of 15-30 metres but most prolific in tropical waters.  The adults are commonly caught at 11-20cm in length and 20-30g. They are caught in 16-20m of water by demersal otter trawling at night over coarse to fine mud bottoms in the ocean. They are also caught by beam trawlers on the east coast. They are generally caught between March and November.

Tiger prawns not only taste good, they also look good! Larger in size and with stripes “dressed to impress”, Tiger are often the preferred choice of hotels and restaurants. For full information about Tiger prawns, flavour affinities and wine matching see Fishfiles.

Endeavour Prawns

Queensland Endeavour prawns include both blue (Metapenaeus endeavouri) and red endeavour prawns (Metapenaeus ensis) and have pale brown – pink bodies and are found in tropical coastal waters of about 15-30m. The adults are commonly caught at 7-14cm and 22-30g by demersal otter trawling over sandy to muddy ocean floor.

The Queensland Endeavour prawn is smaller and not particularly pretty in comparison to other prawns species. Unpretentious, and a little more homely than its showy relatives, the Queensland Endeavour Prawn has been voted the best tasting wild-caught prawn in Australia* – proving one very important fact – beauty is not about appearances, it’s a matter of taste. For full information about Queensland Endeavour prawns, flavour affinities and wine matching see Fishfiles.

King Prawns

King prawns are the most commonly caught prawn in Australia and include western (Melicertus latisulcatus), eastern (Melicertus plebejus) and red spot king prawn species (Melicertus longistylus). The adults have cream to yellow bodies and the adults are caught by the dark of the moon at 10-16cm and 45g by demersal otter trawling. Eastern king prawns are caught mostly in open ocean along the Continental shelf to depths below 60m in mid-summer to winter in the east. Western king prawns are also caught in deeper water between November – December and March – June.

These prawns are “King” in Australia and the most popular due to their great taste, presentation and versatility in the kitchen. For full information about King prawns, flavour affinities and wine matching see Fishfiles.

School Prawns

School prawns (Metapenaeus macleayi) are translucent with irregular brown or green spots and are caught in subtropical to temperate eastern waters. They are most common where marine water meets estuarine water. The adults are 9cm and 10g and are caught by both the dark of the moon or by daylight, generally between October and May, by demersal otter trawling and beam trawling.

School prawns have a distinct taste that is sweeter than that of most other prawns. They are very well suited to many Asian dishes and delicious eaten just on their own. The marriage of flavours is subtle, so avoid combining it with strong or complex tastes. For full information about School prawns, flavour affinities and wine matching see Fishfiles.

* The Endeavour Prawn won the industry taste-off against every commercially caught prawn in Australian waters at the National Australian Prawn Fisheries Conference in Adelaide in February 2007.

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