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April 7, 2015

United States

South Carolina—Studying Tiger Threat

 

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is taking part in a regional study to determine if invasive tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) eat native shrimp.  Tiger shrimp are native to Asia and are about twice as large as local shrimp.  They were spotted along the coast as early as a decade ago and then started turning up in larger numbers in South Carolina waters after Hurricane Irene in 2011.

 

“They’re becoming more commonplace,” said Amy Fowler, a marine scientist with the department who says the regional study is the first of its type.

 

Biologists are trying to determine if reports that the tiger shrimp eat local varieties are true.  DNR is asking commercial and recreational shrimpers to freeze samples of tiger shrimp that they catch and bring them in so their stomach contents can be checked.

 

There also are concerns that the tiger shrimp could carry diseases that could affect native shrimp stocks.  They are also more aggressive and marine biologists worry they could edge out local shrimp in the competition for food.

 

Tiger shrimp are farmed in South America and in the Caribbean and researchers suspect they were swept into the ocean during hurricanes and have been moving northward.

 

Tiger shrimp were also accidently released from a shrimp farm in Bluffton, South Carolina, in 1988.  Shrimpers harvested about 300 tiger shrimp that year, but then the tigers disappeared for the next 18 years.

 

Information: Amy Fowler, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (tigershrimp@dnr.sc.gov, phone 1-843-953-4985).

 

Source: The State.  SC Participating in Study to See If Tiger Shrimp a Threat (An Associated Press Story).  April 6, 2015.

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