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. demogal

    South Louisiana Cajuns will find a way to use them in their fabulous recipes!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Martin

    Holy crap I can't believe they are just throwing these back. I've had them in Portugal several times and they are fantastic !

    December 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ron

    Looks tasty.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dickeyboo

    My parents don't eat shrimp. They are 7th Day Adventist. Carletta does not agree to a weekly Sabbath. She has to go to Birmingham every weekend in her red Durango. It's got a HEMI. She don't play. World, please do not test her. She will cuss you out!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ali

    Damn Nature ! u scary !!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Spendlove

    Rare but fishermen have been catching them for quite a while now and have been throwing them back due to market incompatibility. Good job CNN.. lol

    December 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Clint

    Are these not edible?

    December 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. o.O

    Hey! Why is this a problem? Survival of the fittest baby! Damn narcissistic liberals trying to control wildlife!!!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andrea M

    Don't throw them back, throw them to me!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chelsea

    I eats skrimps likes datt all da timez likes my lovuh on da side be eetin my phat wett pink poosay.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 2Pc

    Just let me know when this guy is ready to be served. I loooove shrimp!!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark

    I can't believe that Obama has allowed this crisis to arise. Giant, monster Black Tiger Shrimp? What in the world was Obama thinking? How could this gap in shrimp come about without it being something planned by liberals? Newt will know what to do with these left-wing crustaceans; i can hear the crunch of their evil shells underneath his conservative boots already.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CC in STL

    Can you say Sushi?!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Patrick

    OMG...a foot long shrimp....put them in the stores! Yum!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John in WNY

    Wait, I thought all life in the gulf, and the entire fishing industry was completely destroyed by BP, and it will take decades to recover, if it ever does.

    Well at least that's what the press has been saying since the oil spill.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
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