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. cpc65

    How come we can wipe out all these other species with ease except for the ones that are the invasive species that are causing trouble. Maybe BP can take them out wth another spill, as long as they don't release C'thulhu in the process.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wo0F

      Wee are pretty invasive, wonder where that leaves us.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

      Cthulhu sleeps beneath the South Pacific, not the Gulf of Mexico you little navigator.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devy

      They're hard to wipe out because when they say there are well over a 1000 of them then you have on average well over 1 of those critters in 1500 square kilometers of sea floor. I wonder why that is such a "huge" problem.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • OILMONEY

      like, what did the BP oil spill do to our oysters and shrimp... what propaganda. why lease oil wells to anyone other than American companies and why have a pipeline from Canada. We can get it out of the Gulf of Mexico ourselves close to TEXAS.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. palintwit

    Remember the Gulf oil well leak? Remember how they finally plugeed it with a week's worth of John McCain's soiled grampy diapers?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. moe smith

    it's a not-so-shrimpy shrimp

    December 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Detheryn

      It's a jumbo shrimp hahaha

      December 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. PS

    I'm all for natural biodiversity, but choosing between an oyster and that gorgeous crustacean? Come on – I"m getting the grill fired up.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. blast-on

    1980's (IXTOC) 140 million gallons of oil spills into the gulf of Mexico, and then you have another oil spill and disaster recently(Exxon/Mobil). And we cannot figure out why these guys are here again. Are you guys hiring?? I could use a regular paycheck.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. dave

    “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.

    That's interesting. why are these shrimps not marketable? aren't bigger shrimps much more expensive than smaller ones? maybe the reporter should dig into that?

    December 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Unocent

      Thats what I'm sayin!!

      December 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeeNYC

      ever met a smart fisherman?

      December 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JJ

    Why would -anyone- throw back a tiger shrimp! they taste good!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Daisy1997

      Really taste good, expensive, and very common in Northeast Australia.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rags

    That's a result of the BP oil spill. All kind of nasties emerge. survive, and thrive in what BP did.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nicholas

      You did see that they came back after the hurricanes in 2005, not after the BP disaster, right? They were there for another reason.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • digginestdogg

      They are not nasty. They are delicious. You city folk haven't a clue. Sissy fraidy cats.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • digginestdogg

      They are not nasty. They are delicious. You city folk haven't a clue. Sissy fraidy cats. I wonder how long you'll survive if we have a real depression and you have to fend for yourself..

      December 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. hi

    giant shrimp...kinda like hot ice cream

    December 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. johnkeating

    A customer walks into a Long John Silvers fast food restaurant and orders a shrimp platter. The food service rep asks 'would you like that supersized?' The customer says 'Yes, I would.' The food service rep comes back with a cooked giant shrimp...

    December 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Evonix

    I don't see the problem with a shrimp that has 6" of tail meat.
    Fire up the grill and open a beer I say!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Elena

    It doesn't look appealing.. The face is kinda creepy.. eewwwll

    December 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • digginestdogg

      No worse than a lobster or crab. Get thee gone, Vegan sissy.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ski

    Throwing tiger prawns back into the sea? What ails these shrimpers? Tiger prawns rock and fetch top dollar in the Asian markets.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. digginestdogg

    Yum. Put some of those on the barby. What's the problem?

    December 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jeff Wilson

    There are all kinds of unusual things going on the Gulf.

    There was a report that very deep in the Gulf of Mexico..there is a layer of mercury that sealife that deep are thriving on. Makes you wonder how a living creature can produce mercury to live?

    December 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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