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August 6, 2013

United States

Louisiana—Giant Tiger Shrimp Invasion

 

According to federal scientists, the giant tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) that have been discovered on the South Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico are likely to become permanent residents.  A recent study reports that they will become “established” in the Gulf of Mexico within 10 years.  That means the species is becoming a self-sustaining, breeding population.

 

Kim Chauvin, a Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, shrimp processor and dock owner, says that local shrimpers fear that the invaders might harm native populations.  “We are all worried about it,” she said.  “We are confused and scared and have been asking a lot of questions and not been given many answers.” 

 

With the fishing season for Gulf white shrimp scheduled to being in mid-August, Wildlife and Fisheries biologists are asking local shrimpers to report any tiger shrimp sightings as a way to help scientists study the invasion of the species and possibly get to the bottom of its origin.

 

Pam Fuller, who runs the USA Geological Survey’s Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program, is the lead author of a recently completed, yet-unpublished paper that documents the tiger shrimp invasion from 2005 and 2012.  In past years, more than 90 percent of reported tiger shrimp sightings occurred between August and November, according to that study.

 

Fuller’s paper, which has six co-authors, concludes that the tiger shrimp “is now likely to be established in the southeastern USA along the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico” due in part to a two-fold increase in the number of juvenile tiger shrimp observed from 2011 to 2012.  The study also points to an “increasing number of reports from inshore areas that are typically considered to be nursery grounds.”

 

Maggie Hunter, a Geological Survey geneticist, has found that there is very little genetic diversity in the tiger shrimp samples collected along the southeast Atlantic coast in the Gulf of Mexico.  She said that suggests the invading shrimp might have all come from the same ancestors.  Hunter says that the genetic similarities also might help trace the shrimp back to a specific shrimp farm.  She and some colleagues are awaiting shrimp samples from some farms to test against locally collected tiger shrimp.

 

Scientists have speculated that the tiger shrimp in the Gulf likely escaped from a shrimp farm in the Dominican Republic during a hurricane in 2005 and then rode currents to the Gulf.

 

Source:  Nola.com (The Times Picayune).  Massive Tiger Shrimp Invaders Likely Have Settled in Louisiana to Stay.  Benjamin Alexander-Block (email bbloch@nola.com).  August 4, 2013.

 

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