“You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There are shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole, and shrimp gumbo. Pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich…” And the list goes on and on.

Thanks to our beloved “Bubba” from Forest Gump, even people not originally from this area know the plethora of ways to prepare the most popular seafood sourced from our coast. And now is a perfect time to add local shrimp to your dinner menus, because as the water temperatures rise, our shrimp grow larger.

Up and down the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, shrimpers are hard at work right around this time when the sun begins to really shine.

It’s easy to understand why the shrimping industry is so robust in the Lowcountry. Shrimp may be the most approachable of all seafood. You’re likely to hear people claim they don’t like seafood “except for shrimp.” Its sweet meat is easy to prepare, and its incredible versatility makes it a staple for popular Southern dishes.

Shrimp is also quite healthy. It’s high in protein and low in calories and fat. Of course, the preparation will affect the final results, but the possibilities are endless. No wonder shrimp accounts for about half of all seafood eaten in the United States annually.

This seafood delicacy is a mainstay that makes countless appearances at all kinds of gatherings across the region. As more people adopt the practice of eating locally sourced food, shrimp has been accepted as a great way to support our ecosystem and regional economy.

Some family shrimpers have been in business for more than 100 years, and their experience and dedication help combat overfishing and foster a sense of pride in the industry. The white and brown shrimp caught in our local waters ships to restaurants and markets both locally and far beyond, with an amazing reputation to uphold.

With the warm weather upon us, the rising water temperatures mean larger, plumper, juicier shrimp. Be sure to visit your local seafood market to stock up and share some with your friends and family soon, knowing that your shrimp selection supports our region’s health and economy.

Charles J. Russo III is the owner of Russo’s Fresh Seafood Bluffton. russosfreshseafood.com