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.

Post by:
Filed under: Animals • Texas
soundoff (484 Responses)
  1. Patricia

    Very misleading article. Isn't most aquatic life cannibalistic? Aren't we?!

    January 9, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Shakes Head

      Not unless you're eating other human beings, which I'm going to guess you're not.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • SirQL8

      Aren't we what ? Cannibals ? Where do you live, Papua New Guinea ?

      January 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jb

      I had tiger shrimps when i was in Singapore. They are amazing!!! Personally i could care less if they eat some of the smaller ones. 1 tiger shrimp is a meal in itself.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. y-rush

    catch it... clean it... cook it... sell it... eat it! i'm not understanding the problem here.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • daftshadow

      exactly! what's the problem here? i love shrimp! black tiger shrimp looks good too!

      January 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vinny

      I saw some recipe with tiger shrimps. We can just eat them.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. az

    I thought 'cannibalistic' meant that they eating their own species.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Shrimp eating shrimp, duh!

      January 12, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. Vinny

    Why can't we eat them?

    January 10, 2012 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lisa

    We pay top dollar for these overseas and they are fantastic to eat. I can't believe fishermen don't already know this. If they ruin the other shrimp market, then catch the ones you can and sell them as the delicacy they are to those who know and reduce their numbers back to manageable. Maybe these geniuses should learn about Google – AT LEAST!!

    January 10, 2012 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
  6. SeanNJ

    Is this the result of a tiger shark mating with a shrimp?

    January 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. hungryseafoodeater

    If they are etible put them on the barbee.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. Fling Ding

    Eat them.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sam

    Mmmm mmmm good!

    January 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Darrell

    That sucker ia a foot long...the size of a small lobster!!! Tarter sauce here we come!!!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ata

    Yes they may be delicious, but obviously you do not understand the ecosystem if you're saying so what. If these tiger shrimp eat all the other small creatures, then it will not only impact the smaller shrimp and oyster population negatively, but also the fish population. When you introduce a fish or plant that is not native to the area, it has a huge impact on the whole ecosystem. So those of you who also like to eat the fish that swim in the gulf, if these tiger shrimp are allowed to proliferate, then there might not be fish from the gulf for you to eat anymore.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • A Thinker

      Strange, isn't it. Only in the last 50 years have we taken a really close look at the eco system and how changes have an effect on other parts of that system. Prior to that, the eco system was left to fend for itself. Oddly, in the last 50 years more damage has been done to the eco system through our intervention and "good" ideas than was ever done in the thousands of years prior.

      Somehow, I doubt they will eat as many as man has been eating for decades now. We'll just have to change our diet to compensate or pay more for a new "delicacy"...

      February 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mabel

    The plural of "shrimp" is "shrimp". Not "shrimps". Get it right.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ahoythere

    Include it in thr menu

    January 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Homer

    mmmmmmm giant shrimp

    January 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DellStator

    If they are a hazard, put a bounty on them, they'll be extinct in a week.

    January 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21