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. Brett

    Black tiger shrimp are AWESOME

    December 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Black Knight

      They are great. They cost a lot more, but they are great to eat.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Erisian

    In the Pacific Northwest we call them Prawns because we want to appear more sophisticated than these dirty southern Forrest Gump type shrimpers.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • knucklecheese

      Yes appearance is everything up there. Substance... not so much.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Kiss my dirty southern butt. You unsophisticated jack-ss

      December 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Reader

    Why are such simple articles so poorly written and reported?!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gman999

    A giant shrimp? Isn't that oxymoronic?

    December 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • knucklecheese


      December 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bernie

    That's gonna be one HUGE bloody mary i tell ya

    December 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jimbo

    Invasive species are a problem, but at least this one is tiger shrimp, mmmmm they are the best tasting shimp I have ever had.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    What is the problem? Just harvest those delicious looking crustaceans! I thought that was an odd statement that "there are over 1000 of them in the gulf right now"? That does not seem like much of a problem. These things get eaten too.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • oussu

      They could be the type of problem lion fish pose. Lion fish can pick a reef clean of small fish since they can eat more than 30 smaller fish in an hour. If the black tiger shrimp has a similar voracity, even a 1000 could do a lot of damage to smaller shrimp species populations in just a single season.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    "We're going to need a bigger.........GRILL!"

    December 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. serdich

    they should have put a bit of rice under it...

    December 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GoodtimeBob

    Accusing BP oil of producing giant shrimp is rediculous. Being higher up the food chain you'd expect the tiger shrimp to be impacted more. They talk about a thousand in the gulf. There are millions of regular shrimp. As has been mentioned... if these become numerous enough to be commercially exploitable they should increase shrimper incomes. Seafood restaurants would handle all that they can catch at a premium price.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Your Mom

    Let's eat!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    Nothing that a little butter and garlic can't fix.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Aaron

    Fix the problems that cause red tide first... then worry about the shrimp.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. brian

    If tiger shrimp have tiger blood, I want some...winner

    December 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grandpa RD


      December 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. demihuman

    that shrimp looks delicious. No worry Gulf coast watchers – catch them and let the shrimp worry about me. I have about 100 different recipes ready to rock...

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