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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

Oct. 21, 2011

Recreational, commercial shrimpers encouraged to report catches of non-native tiger shrimp

In 2011, there has been a striking increase in the number of non-native tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) reported by shrimpers from North Carolina to Florida and across the Gulf States from Florida to Texas.

Recreational and commercial shrimpers are encouraged to report catches of tiger shrimp in South Carolina to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at tigershrimp@dnr.sc.gov. If possible, reports should include a photograph of the animal along with location and date of capture. Specimens less than 5 inches in length are of particular interest and should be kept frozen prior to donation.

Mature tiger shrimp are easy to distinguish from native shrimp by the distinctive dark and light bands across their backs and by their relatively large size (up to 12" in length).

Tiger shrimp were first reported in the wild in South Carolina in 1988 following an accidental release of approximately 2,000 animals from an aquaculture facility in Bluffton, SC. Later that year, nearly 300 tiger shrimp were collected by commercial shrimp trawlers fishing along the South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida Atlantic coasts. This species is not likely to survive typical winter conditions in coastal waters of South Carolina and only lives 2-3 years. There were no further reports of this species from the wild in the southeastern U.S. for eighteen years, suggesting that the animals released in 1988 did not establish a wild population.

In 2006, low numbers of tiger shrimp began showing up again across the southeastern United States. 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 in these areas subsequently established breeding populations in adjacent waters. Young tiger shrimp are mobile and may travel great distances carried by transoceanic currents, tropical storms, or in ballast water.

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