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. atilla

    I thought that environmentalists had declared the gulf dead for the next thousand years.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Epidi

      Life always finds a way – it may be another form – but it always finds a way. There are animals that eat chemicals coming out of the center of the earth down there in the ocean. It'll be there long after we are dust – no matter what we do to it – changed but it'll be there.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • dean

      It doesn't appear that you care enough to try and find out what that means so why should any one bother explaining it to you.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Geezz 1,000 of them in the Gulf, do they have any idea how big the Gulf is? 1,000 of them isn't even enough for one grocery store's inventory let alone a grocery chain. Go out and catch them all, and in stead of throwing them back, sell them to the local fish store and they'd all be gone from the Gulf & Store in One Day.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ezo

      Well, you know how they are – always caring about the environment. What monsters they must be...IDIOT!

      December 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gager

    I'll have one shrimp please and a doggy bag for when I'm full.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Monk

    We should eat those shrimp for eating our shrimp....what goes around comes around amiright?

    December 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      barbeque shrimp, boiled shrimp, broiled shrimp, baked shrimp, sauted...

      December 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sam

    call chuck norris!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steve

    I think the problem is that predatory animals are going to eat something like 90 times their own weight in prey animals to get to that size, so a lot of harvestable biomass is going to get turned into shrimp poop if these things get out of control.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • lordpet

      sounds right. There are always less predators than prey

      December 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I think you are overstating the food to mass ratio for shrimp. I thought was like 22:1 for cattle and 4:1 for chicken. I think shrimp that long are obscene.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bubba Gump

    Send half a dozen to Emeril and we'll see how marketable the are.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blah9999

    Dems is good eatin's

    December 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      republicans can't eat them?

      December 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JOEL

    Ate them all the time in Asia. They are yummy.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sarav Chidambaram

    This looks delicious, catch them and send it to Boston.. I am more than wiling to make a nice Shrimp curry.. yummmmm

    December 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LA Man

    I don't think that something this big can be called a "shrimp"

    December 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      You're exactly right. It's not a shrimp; it's a Prawn! This article is filled with all kinds of inaccurate information.

      December 18, 2011 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. anon200

    Deep fry that thing /drools
    but serious how edible is it? and how much bigger are they do regular shimp in the area(shouldn't be too hard to make nets to catch them

    December 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Prof. Stinkbottom

    They'll need to call it something other than shrimp. That thing is huge!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lou Workman

    IT'S GEORGE BUSH'S FAULT !!!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • getting old

      that statement is really getting old and annoying.

      January 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    There are 1000 of them in the gulf? OMG! Call out the national guard!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    I take one of those foot-long monsters on the bbq! But, joking aside, they're killers. A 20 footer would be just as dangerous as a shark. I smell a reality TV series.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
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