Invasive black tiger shrimp prove a genuine threat to Gulf shrimp populations » Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Fisheries managers say the only good black tiger shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico is a dead one.
Marketed by seafood markets as tiger prawns, this invasive species that eats other shrimp recently reappeared as a genuine concern among state biologists and seafood industry officials. The highly aggressive giant shrimp, which can be a foot long and weigh nearly a pound, can carry diseases that native brown, white and pink shrimp may not have the immune system to fight, said Art Morris, a fisheries biologist with Texas Parks & Wildlife.
These larger predatory shrimp potentially could outcompete native species for food and territory, Morris added.
Reports number 200 official captures of tiger shrimp in the Gulf, including three this year from Aransas Bay, according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. One was caught in Sabine Lake near the Texas-Louisiana border and more recently a tiger shrimp was captured 70 miles southeast of Freeport.
Tiger shrimp are native to the Indian Ocean and western Pacific and are believed to have been introduced in U.S. waters from an accidental release in 1988 from a research vessel near South Carolina.
After that escape involving thousands of shrimp, reports of oversized crustacean came from as far away as Florida in the early 1990s. After that they seemed to disappear until a 2006 capture after Hurricane Katrina inside the Mississippi Sound in Alabama, possibly attributed to a shrimp farm in the Caribbean Sea. Tiger shrimp have a life span of about three years, said Tony Reisinger with the Texas Extension Service.
Since 2006, tiger shrimp have been reported in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
“I definitely think we have a breeding population in the Gulf,” Reisinger said. “We caught them in 2006 and in 2011 we’re still catching them.”