SAN CARLOS ISLAND, Fla.- The shrimping industry is bringing in big bucks for Lee County! Shrimpers on San Carlos Island generate almost a 100 million dollars a year. Our cameras went behind the scenes to see what kind of work goes into the 30 day shrimping voyages. "I was one of them hard headed kids back in the day, so my dad said you have a choice, go to school or go to work?"
Boat Captain Robert Blake has spent over 40 years on the open water and in just a few days he will set sail, again.
"We're gone for 30, here for eight, and then we go again. You know, that's just the life of a shrimper," said Blake.
Hes a part of an industry that generates millions for Lee County, but one that is considered extremely dangerous.
"Anytime you are on the water and exposed to mother nature and the weather changes, it makes life on a shrimp boat change day to day," said shrimp boat owner, Grant Erickson.
And of course there is the intricate process to catching shrimp.
"The shrimp go into these bags, once they dump on the deck we sort through them, we bag them up into forty pound bags; This is a bryan tank, it pre freezes them and once they freeze we drop them into the freezer which gets 10 below," Blake told WINK News.
Each trip the boat makes means $20,000 worth of fuel. Shrimpers have to catch enough shrimp to cover the cost of the gas before they can even make a profit.
"There is 10 different kinds of shrimp, they usually go for three to four dollars a pound," said Erickson.
But in order to bring in the shrimp, 20 hours of work goes into making just one of these hand-sewn nets. Four of them pull along the sea floor at one time.
"Tonight, you can catch 1,000 pounds and tomorrow maybe just 300."
During season, shrimpers catch between 500 to 1,000 pounds of shrimp. They try and catch all wild pink shrimp.