A new invasive species is making headlines and causing a stir in the already unstable region of the Gulf of Mexico. the Giant Tiger Prawn, hailing from the Asian continent, is an invasive species that is threatening the traditional way of life for many gulf residents. These prawns are incredibly aggressive and predatory when compared to the native brown shrimp that are usually scavengers. The tiger prawn can grow over foot in length at a very rapid rate and has potential to upset the ecological balance of many important species. The prawns are also known carriers of several diseases that can spread to native populations. Experts believe that the shrimp was likely introduced accidentally from ballast water in ships, or from aquaculture facilities that escaped during bad weather or from poor management. Genetic testing will hopefully reveal the source of the introduction by the end of this year. As for now, the prawns are raising some big questions for the future of the shrimp industry. On one hand, the tiger prawns could wipe out the native shrimp population. However, their large size and fast growth rate makes them great food as well and more attention is being given towards invasive species as food. Shrimpers could end up benefiting from this situation as a pound of Tiger shrimp costs $20 while a pound of shrimp goes for only $5.99.
Here are some articles about the Tiger Prawn:
–written by Mike Lolley, Fisheries Intern, Fall 2011