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Friday, February 19, 2010 - 10:24am

Imported Monster Shrimp Now Living Here

Georgia shrimpers are cautiously watching the arrival of a giant shrimp from Asia that scientists can't yet say is friend or foe.

Tiger shrimp are unusually large. A single one can grow to a quarter pound.

They're commercially farm-raised in Asia.

Scientists believe they took a ride here on an ocean freighter.

While only a handful have been spotted in Georgia, John Wallace of the Georgia Shrimpers Association says, he's worried about how fast they spread.

"That is a fear, that you would get a very aggressive shrimp that would come in and become a predator," Wallace says. "Three years ago, you heard of a few of them in the east coast of Florida. And it's all usually right around ports."

Tiger shrimp have been spotted from Louisiana to North Carolina.

Scientists can't yet say how they effect native species, since their numbers so far are small.

They could be dead-end survivors of their trans-Pacific rides -- or a more ominous local-born population.

The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service tracks sightings.

It's just one more worry for shrimpers faced with low prices for their catch and increasing costs to do business.

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