Giant cannibal shrimp worry Gulf Coast watchers
Black tiger shrimp may pose a huge problem for the Gulf Coast shrimp and oyster industry, an expert says.
December 16th, 2011
01:22 PM ET

Giant cannibal shrimp worry Gulf Coast watchers

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Gulf of Mexico, a new menace, this one striped like a big cat, is preying on aquatic life: The black tiger shrimp.

The biggest saltwater shrimp in the world, black tigers “are cannibalistic as are other shrimp but it’s larger so it can consume the others,” Tony Reisinger, country extension agent for the Texas Sea Grant Extension Service, told CNN on Friday.

Because of the threat of disease, the predatory intruder poses a problem for the native shrimp and oyster population of the Gulf, Reisinger said.

"Our oystermen right now are hurting because the oyster season is shut down due to a red tide. But this (black tiger) shrimp poses other concerns,” he said.

Appearing more than 25 years ago, the black tiger’s sudden reappearance is a mystery.

“The first time they started appearing was in the late 1980s on the East Coast,” he said. “Then they disappeared in 1991.”

But following the record-breaking hurricane season of 2005, which brought successive monster storms Katrina, Rita and Wilma, they started showing up again, he said.

“They’re well over 1,000 of them in the Gulf of Mexico now,” he said. “We’ve had five of them caught off Texas.”

Reisinger said he spoke to the Brownsville-Port Isabel Shrimp Producers Association recently to warn them about the shrimp but he was too late.

“It turns our fishermen have been catching them for a while, but they didn’t think they were marketable so they were throwing them back,” he said.

Is there a harvestable population already established in the Gulf? What does that mean for the Louisiana and South Texas shrimp and oyster industry? Many questions remain, Reisinger said.

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Filed under: Animals • Texas
soundoff (484 Responses)
  1. prommy

    wow..that ruler is MADE IN U.S.A :)

    December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • ModerateBen

      Yeah! Glad to see that. One of the few things actually made here and stayed here. : D

      December 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • kola

      What a stupid scale ! Its written Meters instead of millimeters. Only Made in USA can be like this one, who don't know metric system at all.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      Kola, maybe the scale is a meter long, ever think of that genuis. By the way meter is the base of the measurement milli, centi, keli ect. Boy do you look stupid.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    time to fire up the barbie

    December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. blach

    eeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

    December 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kyon

    looks good to eat to me

    December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Thomas

    First!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mary

    are they eadible?

    December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emigdio Alvarez

      yes

      December 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tak hu

    Hmmm.... tasty

    December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JDOGGG81

    Whoa! I would love to cook the one on this pic. A foot long shrimp is a full meal by itself. I say let the Gaint Black Tiger shrimp thrive!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mr.Butters

    "“It turns our fishermen have been catching them for a while, but they didn’t think they were marketable so they were throwing them back"

    Really? You would think they would know about invasive species in their area.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in WNY

      Actually they can't be catching them since BP destroyed the gulf and the entire fishing industry in the gulf, at least that's what we've been told.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • TAJW

      Evidently they never eat in Asian restaurants ... 'Tiger Prawns' are one of the top featured (and expensive) items on most menus.

      December 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Memp

    Why can't we just eat the Tiger Shrimp?

    December 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kilric

    shrimp taco

    December 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jon

    but are they tasty?

    December 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    Now that is a big shrimp. But if these things are edible I don't see a problem. We are good at harvesting/fishing/hunting things into extinction.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gene

    I'd eat that until i come all over

    December 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cris

    What....not marketable....It seems the Gulf Coast Fisherman association or whatever trade group represents the industry needs to get the word out...bags of those frozen shrimp are going for $15 a bag here in Maryland

    December 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      A lot of crustaceans – lobster, for instance – gets tough and rubbery when they get large. They may have been thinking this was a more common species that had just gone past it's prime. I'd like to know what species it actually is; it doesn't look quite like a giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) and it's way outside the normal range for those, but without the scientific name there's no telling.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
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