DFO discovers new shrimp species in Newfoundland
For the second time this year, DFO scientists have discovered a new species in the province's coastal waters.
The first Baltic shrimp in North America have been identified along the shores of Newfoundland's west coast.
When scientist Philip Sargent discovered the shrimp four years ago, he and his colleagues thought it was grass shrimp, an inshore species common in Atlantic Canada, but not in Newfoundland.
"I wasn't convinced," Sargent said.
"Based on those characteristics, they were close, but they weren't quite matching up."
Sargent began to consider the possibility that it might be a species from elsewhere in the world.
"I said, there are two other options. Either it's something we haven't seen, period — or it's something new to here."
Sargent sent samples of the specimen to colleagues in Spain, who confirmed he had found Baltic shrimp.
Shrimp are edible, common in Europe
Baltic shrimp are common in the eelgrass beds of the Baltic Sea and throughout Europe, spanning from northern Norway to Morocco.
The shrimp are edible and have a substantial fishery in Denmark.
Baltic shrimp have now found a permanent home in Newfoundland. Specimens have been identified from the Magdalen Islands to York Harbour.
Sargent said it's always significant when foreign species end up in the province.
Either it's something we haven't seen, period — or it's something new to here.- Philip Sargent, DFO
"Despite regulation, ballast water controls and for transportation and that kind of stuff coming from other countries, things are slipping through the cracks," he said.
While the shrimp are not presently acting as an invasive species, Sargent is unsure of how they might affect the province's ecosystem.
"If it remains the way it seems to be going, it might actually be beneficial, because it's contributing to our biodiversity and shrimp are tasty morsels for a lot of our fish species and birds."