The Asian shrimp is much bigger than native shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo: YouTube/livesteel)
Is there a giant shrimp invasion in the Gulf of Mexico?
Wednesday, May 09, 2012, 00:50 (GMT + 9)
A group of fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico reported they have spotted a species of giant shrimp in the waters of Ciudad del Carmen (Campeche).
The fishermen have warned that it is likely that this species is the Asian tiger shrimp, a crustacean reaching a size similar to that of lobsters and it eats small native shrimp.
The specimen found by the group is larger than 30 centimetres and lacks colour and pigmentation.
At first it was thought it was a shrimp that had mutated following the oil spill caused by the British Petroleum Company in 2010.
However, this assumption was ruled out by experts from the Department of Marine Resources Research at the Centre of Research and of Advanced Studies (Cinvestav-Mérida).
It is believed that the shrimp that was found could be a variety of the giant tiger species, native to Asia.
Several findings of this type of shrimp have already been reported in the south-eastern coast of United States and in the Gulf of Mexico.
Several biologists claim that during the last years massive appearances of these crustaceans have increased 10 times.
The Asian shrimp is black with white stripes, can grow to reach 33 centimetres long and can weigh about 110 grams.
Meanwhile, the white, brown and pink shrimp may measure 20 centimetres and can weigh just over 30 grams.
While Asian and native shrimp can be eaten by humans, scientists fear that the tiger shrimp are disease carriers.
To Jorge Herrera Silveira, a researcher at the Department of Marine Resources of Cinestav-Mérida Unit, "because of the unusual size of the species, it is believed it is a mutation."
Anyway, he considers "it is unlikely that a genetic alteration of this type is achieved in a short time."
Meanwhile, US scientists seek to obtain data on the probable migration of this resource from Asia to America by analyzing their DNA
Researchers from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) work with state agencies from North Carolina to Texas to determine how this species arrived at the United States from the Indo-Pacific ocean and from Asian and Australian waters.
The experts’ concern arises from the possible consequences native fish and shellfish can experience.
"Our efforts will include assessments of this non-native species biology and ecology and we will try to anticipate the impacts to species of economic and ecological importance of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico," the marine ecologist James Morris from NOAA expressed.
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By Analia Murias