A Bokeelia shrimp fisherman, Steve Poppell, caught a foot-long Asian tiger shrimp in Lee County waters last Tuesday. Asian tiger shrimp are an invasive species in Florida waters. Unlike indigenous shrimp, they can grow to an amazing 12 inches long and can weigh nearly 2/3 of a pound.
In addition to their size, mature tiger shrimp caught in the wild can be distinguished from native American panaeid shrimp by their overall rusty brown color and the distinctive black and white banding across their back and tail.
The first known report of the Asian tiger shrimp occurred in 1988 when approximately 2,000 were accidentally released from an aquaculture facility in South Carolina. In the aftermath, nearly 300 tiger shrimp were caught off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Local shrimp fisherman Steve Poppell recently caught a foot-long tiger shrimp.
In 2006, 18 years later, a single adult male was captured by a commercial fisherman in Mississippi Sound near Dauphin Island, Ala. Between 2007 and 2011, tiger shrimp were caught in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
In 2013, the Pine Island Eagle reported that Bokeelia shrimp fisherman David Parsons caught the first Asian tiger shrimp in Lee County.
"We knew it was something different as soon as we saw it," Poppell said. "When it was first caught, it had some red coloring in the body but it's been in the freezer for two days and now it's grey. I was born and raised on Pine Island and I've been fishing here for about 35 years. I've never seen anything like this."
According to its website, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commis-sion asks that such finds/catches be reported to its toll-free Exotic Species Hotline at 888-IVE-GOT1 (888-483-4681).