The shrimp never had a chance once the Portuguese got here.
Shortly after World War I, a number of Portuguese refugee immigrants arrived in New York. They were experienced fishermen who didn’t like the cold weather, so they migrated south. Many of them settled in Fernandina Beach, Florida, where they learned about the newly invented trawl nets that could be dragged behind motorized vessels to harvest shrimp. As the shrimper population increased, some began to explore opportunities a little farther north. They soon found Brunswick, with its excellent harbor and coastal estuaries that were ideal breeding grounds for shrimp.
Soon an industry began to take shape. By the 1930’s, the docks of Old Town Brunswick were alive with shrimpers unloading their catch and tending to their boats. With the help of newly developed ice machines, they were able to ship their catch to distant markets including their old port of entry, New York.
The industry thrived up until the 1980’s when a combination of rising fuel prices and overseas competition from cheaper, farm-raised shrimp made it harder and harder to make a living. Today, thanks to a cooperative effort to market Wild Georgia Shrimp with its natural, succulent flavor and firm texture, the shrimping industry is still very much alive in the Golden Isles, although in somewhat reduced numbers.
If you’re here during shrimp season, generally from late May to year’s end, you will notice the shrimp boats off the local beaches and in the waterways as they make their daily rounds to supply our restaurants and others throughout the state.
Shrimpin’ on the Lady Jane
If you want to get a taste of life on a shrimp boat, check out the highly acclaimed tours on the Lady Jane. It’s a fun, family outing on an actual, converted shrimp boat that is now a Coast Guard certified passenger vessel. You’ll cruise through calm, inland waters surrounding the marshes while the crew drops the trawling net. After each of three drops, the catch is displayed on a large tray and a marine biologist explains the incredible variety of species on board. Passengers are allowed to handle the creatures which can include sharks, horseshoe crabs, puffer fish, flounder, crabs, and countless others. Oh, and shrimp too. All are returned to the sea, including the shrimp.
Blessing of the Fleet
If you plan to be here on May 8, 2021, don’t miss Mayfair, the annual processional in Old Town Brunswick, when local shrimpers honor Our Lady of Fatima. There will be food, drinks, activities and music, culminating in the Blessing of the Fleet. The procession and blessing began in 1938, when one of the original Portuguese shrimpers brought home an intricate wooden replica of the actual statue in Fatima, Portugal. Still on display at St. Francis Catholic Church in Brunswick, the statue is carried every year at the Mayfair celebration. Since then, many other shrimping communities along our coasts have added a similar tradition.
How to source your own Wild Georgia Shrimp
Restaurants all over the Golden Isles serve our local delicacy, as do several retail establishments including the Anchored Shrimp Company, City Market, Jackie’s Seafood Market, St. Simons Seafood, and Knights Seafood at the docks on Bay Street.
One of the reasons we love our work at DeLoach Sotheby’s International Realty is that we get to talk about this beautiful and vibrant area all the time…and share our knowledge with people who want to live in the Golden Isles. So if you have any questions about anything here or need any advice from a local, please give us a call at (912) 638-0406 or email Frank.DeLoach@SIR.com.
And when you’re ready to talk about real estate options, here’s the plan. First of all, we’ll listen. We’ll ask questions. We’ll learn everything we can about what will make you happy. Then we’ll show you around. We’ll use both our real estate expertise and local knowledge to help you find what’s right for you. And after you close and move in, we’ll continue to have your back. Thank you for considering us.