CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Reported sightings of the lobster-like Tiger shrimp have been popping up all over the Lowcountry, and the Department of Natural Resources is asking you to let them know if you catch one.
According to the SCDNR website, there has been a striking increase in the number of non-native tiger shrimp reported by shrimpers from North Carolina to Florida and across the Gulf States from Florida to Texas in 2011.
The website also says that 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials say 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, which can be as large as 12".
According to the SCDNR's website:
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.