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      Nature Report: Invasive Species Threatens Shrimping

      Exotic black tiger shrimp are continuing to appear in the nets of South Texas shrimp fishermen, and Cameron County Marine Extension Agent Tony Reisinger is busy collecting the nonnative species for analysis.

      Tony Reisinger, Cameron County Marine Extension Agent, said, "Well we have about six of these in now, and we just turned four of them over to Texas Parks and Wildlife for genetic testing."

      "We are monitoring the situation. We are aware that they are coming in on the shrimp boats that are catching them offshore. And while we are concerned, it is just a matter of monitoring, and we are testing them to see where they may have come from," said Mark Lingo, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist.

      A popular aquaculture species, black tigers are native to the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. They are named for their bright yellow stripping which fades after being caught. While none are raised on Texas shrimp farms, it is thought the black tigers from the Gulf perhaps originated from Caribbean ponds breached by a hurricane several years ago.

      More than 200 have recently been harvested in the Gulf of Mexico, but the actual number may be closer to a thousand as not all are thought to have been documented. Twice the size of native Gulf shrimp at nearly a foot long and weighing almost a pound, the huge invasive shrimp are feared to be breeding in the Gulf of Mexico and may outcompete native shrimp.

      Reisinger said, "We don't know what impact what they are going to have on the fishery, but we know they are a major predator compared to our shrimp which are scavengers, so that remains to be seen."

      "It is a concern. We are obviously depending on the research that Texas A&M is doing, and hopefully we can figure out where it came from and where it is going and how much of an effect it is going to have on us," said Carlton Reyes, President of the Brownsville Port Isabel Shrimp Producers Association.

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