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. lkjfvgo

    “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.”

    I think you meant "There are well over 1,000 of them in the Gulf of Mexico now,” he said. “We’ve had five of them caught off Texas." Which can't be contracted to "There're" even if that is what the source said. Are you guys hiring for copy editors?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      [sic]

      December 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mandarus

    I've eaten these guys that big. Delicious!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. NoDoubt

    Larger shrimp tend to not be as tasty as the smaller ones.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • observer

      Round them up for Iron Chef America!

      December 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rod C. Venger

    Black shrimp, pink shrimp...I assume one is as tasty as the other.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Ha ha. They're all pink on the inside anyway !!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. EatThemAllTheTime

    I eat, almost exclusively, black tiger shrimp. That's simply what we get at CostCo or even Safeway, where I live in Hawaii – they are shipped in from Vietnam and the Philippines, IIRC. The one in the picture is certainly a big one, but with the head off, it looks like it would be somewhere between the U-5 and U-8's I buy at CostCo all the time (only 5 or 8 shrimp per POUND, respectively – they are huge). Don't worry Gulf Coast, this is a delicious infestation.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. uh oh

    I cant think of a reason to be concerned they look not only marketable but absolutely delicious! After seeing that big shrimping show on the history channel I can see why they would throw them back though. Those guys dont look to bright and if you put them all together in a line you know what you get? a full set of teeth!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brian

    One day creatures from the sea are going to crawl out of the ocean and eat us all.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamison

      They have already. Remember Godzilla??

      December 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan, TX

    Sounds like they are non-native and they are worried they will bring in diseases that are not native to the area, thus, no immunity. Thus, possibly destroying the shrimp industry of the gulf coast. But that certainly isn't clear from this article.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ron

    Hey just solve the problem by bathing these menaces with lemons and melted butter....

    December 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Professor Trollworth

    Is it "All you can eat" shrimp time now?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DeeNYC

    They eat other shrimp so it's like a giant shrimp STUFFED with smaller shrimp!!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jeff

    giant shrimp.......... too funny !!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chartreuxe

    Stupid to call these cannibal shrimp. Everything in the ocean preys on something else. We're all part of the food web when we're in the salt.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. db

    Tastes like chicken!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Iceman

    Fishermen complaining about catching jumbo shrimp. What are they think? $5 a pound, Yummy!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grandpa RD

      If giant shrimp like this are $5 a pound where you are, I WANT TO MOVE THERE! Here in Northridge Cali they are getting like $11 a pound or more, and you only get 6 or 7 of these beasties. My 3 growing boys can eat 6 or 7 of these at a sitting along with rice and a salad and come back for a snack in 2 hours. *sigh*

      December 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
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