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The Rock Shrimp Story

The Little Crustacean That Could
Wild Ocean Seafood Market & The Story of the Rock Shrimp
About forty years ago the little crustacean known today as rock shrimp, couldn’t even be given away—never mind eaten! It was through the perseverance of Wild Ocean Seafood Market founder, Rodney Thompson, that the largest shrimp industry Florida’s East Coast has ever seen was born.
It was 1969 and Rodney’s company, Thompson Trawlers, was known as one of Titusville’s best local boat builders. Yet Rodney had a bigger dream: he wanted to be a king!—king shrimper, that is. But first, he knew he needed his very own fleet of boats. So Rodney set out to build the Western Hemisphere’s very first fiberglass shrimp trawler. She was a seventy-three-foot beauty with one problem—she just couldn’t catch shrimp.
One afternoon, a disappointed Rodney and his crew pulled into Port Canaveral. It was by good fortune they happened to tie-up next to the NOAA Research Vessel, Oregon II. Smiling down at Rodney and his ragtag crew, Captain Barrett looked at the ship’s empty nets and grinned. “Do you want to make a million dollars?” he asked. “I’ll show you how!”
Rodney was hesitant, but he and his crew were starving, so the next day, he accepted Barrett’s offer. Following the Oregon II, the tiny boat found itself twenty miles offshore of Melbourne—down went the sample nets. After a number of “tries,” the crew pulled in over a thousand pounds of a shrimp called “peanuts” (also called “trash” or “hardheads”). “Captain Rodney,” Barrett mused. “If you can figure out how to sell these ‘peanuts,’ you’ll be a millionaire!”
The “hardhead” shrimp were shipped to fish markets across the country—but no one would bite. Rodney even paid for shipping costs but he couldn’t give them away! But he knew Barrett was right—he knew he had something—he just wasn’t sure what yet. One Sunday, pondering over his “peanut” predicament, Rodney and his daughter, Laurilee, split one. They butterflied it, buttered it, and threw it on a broiler. The rock shrimp, as it became known, was delicious!
With the advent of high-speed splitting machines and new processing rooms, Rodney’s tiny fiberglass trawler soon grew into a fleet of boats which became known as the Cape Canaveral Shrimp Company. Rodney’s shrimp “kingdom” quickly grew and soon started the world-famous Dixie Crossroads Seafood Restaurant, where residents and visitors of Titusville could have local-caught seafood dinners made-to-order. Answering the demand for fresh, wild-caught seafood throughout the nation, so too was born the Wild Ocean Seafood Market.
With over six generations of fisherman, shrimpers, and shipwrights behind us, at Wild Ocean Seafood Market we use our long-history to purchase only the finest quality seafood from the best fisheries. Wild Ocean offers seafood at its best—harvesting only at the height of season for premium flavor. Always found in pristine, pollution-free waters, our seafood is never fed antibiotics or growth hormones and is allowed to ‘swim free’ in their natural marine environments.
Today Wild Ocean offers premium, wild-caught seafood not only from Florida waters, but from all corners of North America. From tender Alaskan Salmon fillets to fire-red Maine Lobster, rosy Yellowfin Tuna steaks to tasty California Golden Crab, our selection is wide and it all started with one “little crustacean that could”—the Florida rock shrimp.

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