That ironic contradiction in terms, “jumbo shrimp,” has renewed currency these days with news that the Asian Tiger shrimp, which is native to the Pacific, has invaded the Gulf of Mexico. The shrimp can get up to 13 inches long and weigh nearly a pound, with stripes across its back that mimic those of its namesake.
Yes, these giant shrimp are edible, and we know that the hearty appetites of Louisiana residents are surely up to the challenge of consuming them. But marine scientists worry that the big shrimp could crowd out the smaller shrimp species, such as the white shrimp, that are a staple of Louisiana’s commercial shrimpers industry. Most diners find that the white shrimp has a sweeter, subtler taste than its Asian cousin.
The number of Asian Tiger shrimp in the Gulf appears to be quite small right now, although scientists say the species could become very well established in area waters over the next decade. What that will mean to local shrimpers is hard to say. But marine officials are right to be concerned about this latest of many worries facing Louisiana shrimpers.
We hope that this shrimp challenge doesn’t become a whale-sized disaster.