Shrimp are tasty and good for you, right? So why worry about invasive shrimp coming to our shores? The reason for concern is that such invasive species often thrive and compete with native species, sometimes even driving them out, and may further impact the prey species of the shrimp as well. Dr. James T. Carlton, a world-renowned expert on invasive species, led a team conducting dockside surveys to assess the spread and abundance of invasive non-native shrimp in the Northeastern United States. In the summer of 2014, with partial funding from the Northeast Sea Grant Consortium, Carlton and project coordinator Shannon Weigle launched Shrimp Expedition 2014, using floating docks at public and private marinas as sampling sites.
The ShrimpEx14 team, consisting of Dr. Carlton, colleagues from colleges and universities along the coast, and undergraduate research assistants, sampled 74 sites from Calais, Maine to Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. Prior to the project, the invasive Asian shrimp Palaemon macrodactylus had been found from Massachusetts to northern New Jersey, but during the expedition was documented from New Hampshire to central New Jersey. The European shrimp Palaemon elegans had been reported largely from north of Cape Cod, but was found as far south as Narragansett Bay, and is expected to proceed south into Long Island Sound. The survey documented the previously unknown relative abundance of both introduced and native shrimp. The team also recorded for the first time the extent of the co-occurrence of native and introduced shrimp, as well as the first instance of both invasive species occurring together in North America. Carlton is Williams College Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences and Director Emeritus of the Maritime Studies Program of Williams College-Mystic Seaport.