Lions And Tigers: Too Much For The Gulf Of Mexico To Bear? Like ‚Europeans Bringing Smallpox To The New World‘
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — There’s an unseen foreign invasion going on in the Gulf of Mexico. Its stealth and speed is matched only in the uncertainty it has created among scientists and the people who make their livings from the Gulf’s waters.
Lionfish and black tiger shrimp are only two of more than 40 species of non-indigenous sea life known to be spreading through the Gulf of Mexico from their native waters, but they are seen by many resource experts as the most threatening. Lionfish have been a growing problem in the South Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Oceans Sea for most of a decade, but black tiger shrimp are a relatively new phenomenon. A few were captured in the Gulf of Mexico each year beginning in 2006, but the numbers rose significantly in 2011. During this year, more than 60 of the shrimp were brought by shrimp boats to one dock alone in Louisiana and the first captures off Texas‘ coast were reported to the federal government. Three black tiger shrimp were caught in Aransas Bay, one was caught in Sabine Lake and one was caught in federal waters about 70 miles offshore from Freeport.
Lionfish and black tiger shrimp, both native to the Indian and western Pacific Oceans, are noted for their aggressive feeding behaviors and hardiness they can live in a wide range of water temperatures and salinities. These traits make them perfect, and dangerous, invaders.
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