The ridgeback shrimp is actually a prawn—distinguished by the sharp spine on its back—and is a smaller, more readily available species than the spot prawn. It is the only species of rock shrimp that can be found along the west coast of the United States. This species ranges from Monterey Bay California to Isla Maria Madre in Mexico. Major concentrations occur in the Santa Barbara Channel, which is considered to be the most suitable habitat.
Ridgebacks have a maximum life span of 5 years and the majority of the catch is documented to be composed of 2 and 3 year olds. The females attain larger size than the males. Since these are wild-caught, there will be a disparity in the sizes.
The spawning season takes place from June through October, so the fishing season for them usually opens in November and stays open through the spring. Very tender in texture, their overall fragility prevents them from being shipped fresh, so take advantage of your visit to enjoy this delicacy.