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. Vayle

    Somebody call Bubba!

    December 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Badabing

    Black tiger shrimp are plentiful in the waters around southeast Asia, and like any other shrimp (if you like shrimp), they are excellent, and have a lot more meat than smaller shrimp. You can buy them in the US in some stores- pricey but worth it.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JMoney

      Purchasing shrimp from SE Asia? Do they give you a lead-painted toy as well with each order? Seriously though, the environmental regulations of the fishing industry there (Chine, Vietnam, Thailand) are horrible. Most of it is farmed in open-ocean systems. Instead, try pink or rock shrimp from the NW US, spot prawns from the US/Canada or farmed shrimp from the NE US. Check out Monterrey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mary

    Maybe they thrive on oil and surfactants?

    December 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • bob

      thats why they showed back up 5 years BEFORE the spill. oil and surfactants convey the power to predict the future.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tluv00

    That is one big a$$ shrimp!

    December 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. klownboy

    Too bad I am allergic to shrimp...

    December 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Su Lynn

    Yep! I could eat that shrimp. Oh my, only 1,000 of them – heck, I could wipe them out in a month!

    December 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Doug

    Bring me some butter!

    December 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Weldon Gebhard

    How do you sue a shrimp.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Oyibo46

    These are known as "Tiger Prawns" on the west coast of Africa. Unlike our gulf shrimp, these don't get that strong iodine taste to them when they get large. I've seen some almost as long as my forearm where I work as a merchant mariner (west coast of Africa). Great tasting too ;)

    December 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Snow

    Cannibal shrimp? nice! its payback time for all the shrimp people had been eating away.. :)

    December 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Junit

      Cannibalism does not refer to eating humans

      December 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. anderson

    I'll eat the "menace"..

    December 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sumguy

    5 caught off Texas....1,000 in the entire gulf?
    This is news? We had a Mountain Lion in CT.... The gulf is huge, It seems about the same statistically, not significant.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. DCB

    Like Badabing said....in Singapore where I lived these were the shrimp to have! As big as a lobster and just as tasty....don't know why the fisherman are complaining, I know I would order a Tiger Prawn before I'd order those little tiny shrimp we have always had here.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. nfler

    .....Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, 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. That- that's about it.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

      Damn, now I'm hungry...

      December 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Just_One

    Bring me butter, lemons and a lot of black pepper. I will handle this problem myself.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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