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. Marshall Tucker

    Well over a thousand of them?? I am having trouble seeing how such a small number could be any threat at all, could they not be easily fished out?? Maybe Im missing something.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Starman

      Keep trying. You're closer to an answer than you think.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • batteryinme

      One would want to know their fecundity.....how many times they mate a year.....etc. before dismissing 1000 and a small number. The Gulf seems pretty large.......difficult to fish out every shrimp (even if its a whopper!). Similar to Asian Catfish as they enter the Great Lakes region......why not just fish them out? Because its statistically impossible to catch them all.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jules

      I can't see how 1000 of anything could be easily fished out of the body of water the size of the Gulf Of Mexico? Also? 1000 shrimp can breed their numbers into the millions quickly.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. R. Boudreaux

    What the hell is this and how much is it for a pound??????

    December 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Aron

    Where I'm from, those are called Lobster

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

      Everything is bigger in Texas.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Munchkinland?

      A Godzilla lobster can weigh over 40 pounds. Google it.

      Do you know how much bacon it takes if one wraps a 40 pounder in bacon and brushes it with bbq sauce and grills it? Why is everything in American cooked with bacon or deep fried? There are even dishes both bacon wrapped and deep fried. Google it.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. svscnn

    That's one heck of an oxymoron.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Herny

    Commercialize these tiger shrimps. Should have great markets for them.

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

    MMMMMM shrimp i have a idea me and my cajun friends can have a nice big shrimp boil for every one with 1000 of those suckers.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    We're gonna need a bigger boat!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      +1

      December 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jade

      i ❤ you!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Thanks so much! I hope you both have awesome weekends!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • hasToBeAPartOfThisGroupie

      I ❤ you 3 too.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Loukiii

    Black Tiger Shrimp are very edible. And delicious wrapped in bacon brushed with some bbq sauce and tossed on the grill. I will happily volunteer to eat all of them they can catch.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fly Guy in SJ

      Absolutely! Bacon-wrapped shrimp are awesome! Black tiger shrimp are delicious, you can buy frozen ones in any Asian supermarket.

      The size of the one in the picture reminds me of these huge freshwater prawns in Viet Nam; they go 6 – 12 inches in length, and they have a single long blue arm with a claw on the end. They're delicious fresh. You can get them frozen here, but the taste is pretty disappointing compared to the fresh ones; I don't buy them anymore.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • page

      anything is good wrapped in bacon. mmmmm

      December 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MINX

    Are they edible?

    December 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ray in Vegas

    I thought the same thing. There must be many more of them. It may be a typo (maybe 10,000?) or simply a very bad estimate.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hungry Man

    So, more shrimp in the gulf to catch and eat? Hmmm, this issue may be as horrible as the "Raining Twinkies" phenomenon in Southern Spain.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. crabiestcatsh

    good. maybe the little shrimp wont be a bother. this is true jumbo shrimp. one id like to try.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Fat Man

    Gimme some melted butter and I'll solve this problem

    December 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. drager

    The taste of shrimp in the size of a lobster. I don't see why this can't be the main course for special dinners.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. facebook

    well ho noow to deadlyy who'd eat those things lol jkiin

    December 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
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