July 24, 2014
FRISCO — Ocean scientists say they’ve recently documented a tenfold increase in the number of invasive Asian tiger shrimp in U.S. coastal waters, with as-yet unknown consequences for native ecosystems and the shrimping industry.
Female Asian tiger shrimp can grow to 12 inches in size and have voracious appetites, feeding on native shrimp, bivalves, crustaceans, and fish. It’s not clear exactly how they arrived in the area, but researchers suspect several pathways, including escape from aquaculture during tropical storms and hurricanes. They may also have been released from ballast water in ship, or simply migrated from wild populations in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
To learn more about the, government scientists are trying to determine the pathway of introduction, where they are established, and what this may mean for native fish and other organisms.
“We can confirm there was nearly a tenfold jump in reports of Asian tiger shrimp in 2011,” said Pam Fuller, the USGS biologist who runs the agency’s Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database and lead author of the 2014 article in Aquatic Invasions. “And they are probably even more prevalent than reports suggest, because the more fishermen and locals become accustomed to seeing them, the less likely they are to report them.”
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