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NOAA monitoring Asian tiger shrimp


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Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2011 12:00 am


BEAUFORT — An invasive species has had a sighting explosion in North Carolina and other southern states’ coastal waters.

Dr. James Morris, ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab on Pivers Island, said hundreds of Asian tiger shrimp (also known as black tiger shrimp) were sighted this summer throughout the southeast United States and the Gulf of Mexico. This non-native species has been under observation by NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, the South Carolina Department of Marine Resources and other state agencies.

“We are unsure at this point if we’re dealing with a self-reproducing population in the Atlantic or if the sightings are the result of continued releases (from aquaculture farms),” Dr. Morris said.

A number of sightings have been made in North Carolina; specimens have been collected, as well. At the Beaufort lab, Dr. Morris took several shrimp out of a freezer and laid them out on a tray. Each shrimp was easily longer from head to tail than his entire hand.

“We’ve been monitoring them for years,” Dr. Morris said. “It’s one of many non-native species we’re finding in Atlantic waters. This one has been in background levels, but this year, fishermen were reporting them in the hundreds.”

The USGS has a real-time database tracking the reported sightings and collections on tiger shrimp. In North Carolina, there were 41 recorded sightings and/or collections this year alone, 16 of them in Carteret County.

Dr. Morris said the DMF tells them there are a lot more sightings and collections than that.

“Some fishermen take them home,” he said. “We’ve been collecting data (nationally) since 1998. Half the collections we have in North Carolina were from this year alone.”

Asian tiger shrimp are a species of shrimp capable of growing upwards of 13 inches long. The shrimp can weigh over a quarter of a pound each. Dr. Morris said the shrimp are carnivorous.

“As adults, they’re capable of eating small fish and other shrimps,” he said. “We’re concerned that they may affect native shrimp species by direct competition, disease transmission or other unforeseen impacts.”

Asian tiger shrimp are native to the Indo-West Pacific.  In their native area, they’re a common aquaculture species, with worldwide production in 2009 coming in at 770,000 tons valued at over $3.5 billion. Dr. Morris said they’re not sure how the shrimp came to North Carolina or the Atlantic coast; he’s not aware of any active tiger shrimp farms in the U.S. at this time.

“It’s speculated that the specimens we’re collecting in the U.S. waters were released accidentally from aquaculture farms somewhere in the Caribbean,” he said. “In 1988, there was an accidental release from a South Carolina mariculture facility, but I wouldn’t blame it (the introduction of the shrimp) on that. This shrimp has been cultured in the Caribbean for years.”

Dr. Morris and his colleagues are working on an integrated assessment of the tiger shrimp population in the Atlantic, as well as their next steps to address the invasive species. He said they expect to have the assessment and plan done in 2012.

The DMF is asking fishermen who catch tiger shrimp to freeze it, record the date and location the shrimp was taken, and to contact Trish Murphey, DMF biological supervisor for the central district, by phone at (800) 682-2632 or by email at

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  • aliceedillard posted at 3:01 am on Mon, May 12, 2014.

    aliceedillard Posts: 1

    These species are in near extinction so they must be protected and preserved. A lot of nature conservatives are looking on this issue and the latter protection that they are conducting. I've added this on my thesis on time works and will publish this sometime this month.

  • anonymous posted at 7:04 am on Tue, Nov 1, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    I have one of theses in the freezer. Somebody gave me one he caught in the sound the first part of Oct. 2011. I showed it around and put it in the freezer. Biggest shrimp I ever saw! This is from the Broad Creek area.

  • anonymous posted at 12:58 am on Tue, Nov 1, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    I wanna see the Speck that can eat one of those bad boys alive on a cork!!!

  • anonymous posted at 3:15 am on Mon, Oct 31, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    These shrimp are awesome on the plate. I bought them 4 to a kilo, 1/2 lb each in the Phillipines. They grow the 13+ in. as stated. These could bring a new market here. Who wants a small shrimp? The bigger the better. They are like a lobster tail.

  • anonymous posted at 2:30 am on Mon, Oct 31, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Gonna need more old bay.. As to how they taste...

  • anonymous posted at 3:16 pm on Sun, Oct 30, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Why is it that everything from anywhere near any Asian county has the word " Tiger " attached to it? Clammerhead

  • anonymous posted at 12:10 pm on Sun, Oct 30, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    What fish would this Asia Shrimp be used as bait to catch? ( in the Indo-West Pacific)Being carnivorous means they have teeth. What species of fish do they prey on?Are they safe to eat?How different are they different from an Atlantic Tiger Shrimp?

  • anonymous posted at 12:06 pm on Sun, Oct 30, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Lol, that 1 shrimp is a shrimpburger on its own if they are edible!

  • anonymous posted at 8:22 am on Sun, Oct 30, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Hey wait just a minute,,,I read all of this LONG article on shrimp and they failed to mention one thing...How do they taste!!! bwahhhahahahaha...

  • anonymous posted at 10:27 pm on Sat, Oct 29, 2011.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Now Isn't This Just Ironic The DMF Is Asking For The Commerical Fishermans Help.......Let The Commerical Ask For Help From The DMF An What Do They Get?....................NOTHING


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