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. Terry

    "Because of the threat of disease, the predatory intruder poses a threat to the native shrimp and oyster population of the Gulf, Reisinger said." They don't say the the threat of disease is? Is it the red tide or something else. Very poor reporting.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeeNYC

      Poor reporting on CNN? NOOOO!!!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barrie

      I come from Western Australia where I've feasted off these and the other big shrimp/prawn – the Banana Prawn – for the last 50 years. They tend to be seasonal, and when in season, are VERY plentiful and extremely marketable, both at home and throughout Asia. The smart guys in the gulf could do worse than try to propagate them.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bubba

    hum...I don't see any wrong with this?? Big shrimps for everyone?? This is like complaining ohhhh my girl friend has large breast.?????!!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • david

      you"re an idiot

      December 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      very funny. very true!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laughing1

      I totally agree!

      December 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dea2

    Yumms!!!!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GC

    hm.. let's see. Fishermen complaining about catching jumbo shrimp??? weird!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • hilo, HI

      "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Gulf of Mexico,",,,,,NOBODY ever believed that the Gulf was safe after the dispersant Corexit.

      This IS a problem for fishermen. Contaminated products are a liability to their business.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GC

    hmmm... fishermen complaining about the shrimp being too large? I mean those are the shrimp that are most in demand and command the highest prices...

    December 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    Wait till the Tigers take out the herd of natives then we will see about the real impact of these carnivores. Do these Tigers mate and reproduce as well as the natives.?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tom

    Nothing a pot of water at 212 F wouldn't cure. Seriously, these are a delicacy in Portugal. Like they say, when you got lemons, make lemonade. Stop throwing 'em back.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dfghj

    Just dump more oil in the gulf to kill them off.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Watson the Scholar

      Good point!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Keep that crap outta my water, or you'll drink it. Period.

      Don't mess with Floridians. We take no prisoners and no one messes with our stuff. We have the last living coral reef in the continental US and we'll protect it to the last person. Come visit, bring money then go the hell back home.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Watson the Scholar

      Watch out from the internet tough guy from .....Florida? The only people who live in Florida are old and wear their pants up to their nips.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Watson the Scholar

      "We take no prisoners".... haahhahahahaha, obviously you literally take no prisoners. Ask Casey Anthony's daughter....oh wait.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. norker

    but, the million dollar question remains, are they good eatin? and do the chinese think so?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. son of liberty

    it's probably chewy, like a car tire. Shrimp that big can't be good.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeeNYC

      ever had a 10lb lobster? still pretty damn good when cooked properly.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Watson the Scholar

      Yeah! It probably tastes like lobster, GROSS!!!!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Lobsters that size are usually tough. 5 lbs and under are better. Let the big ones live and breed more bugs for us to eat.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Portland tony

    Is this an earth shaking event or the high school writing project for one of the staff's kids?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kdawg

    Throw another shrimp on the barbie.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sybaris

    Good lord, the ignorance of this uncultured land raises it's ugly head yet again.

    They're Tiger prawns (shrimp) and a common menu item in most of the world.

    If you're just gonna throw them back ice 'em down and send them to me!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kevin O.

    A shrimp's heart is located in its head.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 2for1

    Yummy, I bet those would be tasty served over grits!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
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