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Carolina del Norte authorities ask for help to fishermen to report catches of tiger shrimp. (Photo: NOAA/Stock File/FIS)

Sightings of invasive tiger shrimp soar, DNR asks for help

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Monday, October 31, 2011, 05:00 (GMT + 9)

Shrimpers from North Carolina to Florida and across the Gulf States from Florida to Texas have noticed a startling amount of non-native tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) this year. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking recreational and commercial shrimpers to report all catches of tiger shrimp.

If possible, reports should include a photograph of the shellfish along with location and date of capture. Specimens measuring less than 5 inches in length are of particular interest and should be kept frozen prior to donation to the department, DNR said in a statement.

Mature tiger shrimp are easy to distinguish from native shrimp because they have distinctive dark and light bands across their backs and a relatively large size (up to 12" in length), DNR explained.

Samples of tiger shrimp brought in by shrimpers could help figure out where the shrimp came from and what can be done about them.

“We don’t know very much right now about how they’re interacting with native species,” admitted Peter Kingsley-Smith, DNR shellfish research manager, The (Charleston) Post and Courier reports.

Tiger shrimp were first seen in the wild in South Carolina in 1988 after an accidental release of approximately 2,000 specimens from an aquaculture facility in Bluffton. Later that year, nearly 300 tiger shrimp were gathered by commercial shrimp trawlers fishing along the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida Atlantic coasts.

DNR noted that tiger shrimp are not likely to survive typical winter conditions in coastal waters off South Carolina and only live two to three years, so authorities figured the escaped shrimp had died off. After those sightings, there were no further reports of this species from the wild in the southeastern US for 18 years, suggesting that the ones released in 1988 did not establish a wild population.

Then in 2006, low numbers of tiger shrimp began appearing again across the southeastern US. DNR said that sources for this possible new introduction of tiger shrimp include aquaculture operations in the Caribbean, northern South America and the west coast of Africa.

Tiger shrimp that escaped from aquaculture farms in these areas have established breeding populations in contiguous waters. Young tiger shrimp are mobile, DNR specified, and can travel great distances as they are carried by transoceanic currents, tropical storms or ballast water in ships.

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com

Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS
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