Giant Shrimp on the Loose

A nonnative “giant tiger prawn” was caught in East Bay near Panama City. The FWC is asking fishermen to report sightings of the shrimp, which have been found off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

Florida shrimp are recognized as some of the absolute best in the country. Now a new behemoth “prawn” may be appearing in state waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking fishermen to be on the lookout for nonnative giant tiger prawn after a recent sighting in East Bay near Panama City. Biologists are also working to confirm reports of a sighting in Pensacola Bay.

The catch marks the first time a giant tiger prawn was reported to the FWC in Florida’s northern Gulf of Mexico waters. Reports have been common in Atlantic coastal waters, three were reported off the coast of St. Augustine this summer.

Named for the black stripes on its shell, giant tiger prawn also are known as black tiger shrimp and Asian tigers. Impacts, both negative and positive are not known, but they could include competition for resources. Limited data indicate that there is likely not an established breeding population at this time, but there are several theories on why fishermen are seeing more of them, including increased awareness among fishermen and accidental releases in the Caribbean and South America.


Native to Southeast Asia and Australia, the large (8 to 12 inches long) shrimp was first introduced into U.S. waters in 1988 after an accidental release of about 2,000 shrimp from an aquaculture facility in Bluffton, S.C. About 10 percent of those that were released were later recaptured, some as far south as Cape Canaveral. After 1988, the next reported sighting wasn’t until 2006. Since then, several sightings have been reported along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina southward. Gulf sightings have been rare but are increasing in frequency in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastal waters.

What to Do:

Tiger prawns are edible and mild tasting, contributing to their popularity worldwide. If you catch any giant tiger prawn, the FWC requests you report size, date and location of the capture, preferably with the GPS coordinates, to Larry Connor at Fishermen also are asked to take photos of them for identification purposes.

  • Alexander Ren

    Kill em on sight! In addition to competing with our native species of shrimp, this exotic species may also be carrying a disease that our native species have no exposure to.


  • Jerry Plaaten

    Yeah and I've heard that they might also be radioactive or trained in the martial arts as a military weapon! Without scientific support? Probably no more so than Alex's statement … ;^)

  • Jerry Plaaten you let people make unsubstantiated claims? What is the science behind what Alex has claimed? The is mention of the unique disease on FAO or Wiki and the article in The Ledger from Lakeland, FL simply says they may carry white spot disease which is common in shrimp aquaculture, not unique. If someone makes a claim, make them support it. Otherwise it is just a fabrication which has no place in print.

  • Chuck Griffin

    All I know is I ate some in the Philippines–deep-fried with head, legs, tail, shell and eye stalks intact–and they were delicious.

  • Brian Flaherty

    Caught in St Augustine Fl 8/22/2014