Giant Tiger Shrimp Invading The Gulf Coast Waters


Asian Tiger Shrimp Invading the Gulf Coast Waters

Tiger Shrimp near Dauphin IslandA non-native species, Asian tiger shrimp have starting showing up along the Gulf Coast. The concern is that they will eat our shrimp (which are much, much smaller) and that they will eat the food that our shrimp eat, causing our local shrimp to die of starvation. Either way, it would hurt our local shrimp populations. State officials are also concerned that the tiger shrimp will endanger native shrimp species by spreading sickness and depleting food and habitat resources.

It is unclear how the shrimp first ended up in state waters or why their numbers seem to be increasing (one theory is that they came in a ship’s ballast water or escaped from Caribbean aqua farms). The shellfish are native to the West Pacific and are widely farmed in Asia. In other coastal locations fisherman aren’t reporting catching any small tiger shrimp, which makes it unlikely that they’re breeding.

Asian Tiger Shrimp are GIANTS!

Tiger Shrimp near Dauphin IslandThe giant tiger prawn is more than just a jumbo shrimp. It’s a huge, hungry and highly invasive species that could pose a jumbo problem for the already embattled Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. A tiger shrimp can grow to the length of a man’s forearm. They are voracious eaters and predators (most native shrimp are scavengers) and are known to eat other shrimp and crabs.

With ever increasing numbers along the gulf coast, scientists are concerned, not just because of the ecological impacts but also due to the fact that tiger shrimp are known to carry at 16 different viruses that can kill other shrimp populations, and even the crab and oysters populations.


We recently discovered a tiger shrimp that we had pulled up with a number of other creatures on one of our recent tour boat excursions aboard The Duke.

Tiger Shrimp near Dauphin Island

It’s too soon to know the scope of the problem, but a reproducing population of tiger prawn in the Gulf could easily be disastrous. The region is already home to a menagerie of invasive species — from tilapia and lionfish to zebra mussels and nutria — and parts of it remain wrecked by the 2010 BP oil spill. An alien predator as big and prolific as the tiger prawn is the last thing such a fragile ecosystem needs.

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