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About the Tarpon

The magnificent Tarpon, Megalops ("large-eyed") atlanticus

tarponThe Tarpon is an impressive large fish which is widely known as the Silver King The Silver King is the most common name given to the Tarpon by anglers, due to it’s vivid bright flash that reflects from its large silver scales when it jumps into the air or maneuvers through the water.

Characteristics include: Dorsally, Tarpon usually appear greenish-black and poses large flat silver scales up to three inches in diameter (which are incorporated in jewelry and the cosmetic industry), large bony under slung jaw and has an elongated dorsal fin (present in adults), curved anal fin and a deeply forked caudal fin. The fins do not contain spines but soft rays.

tarponTarpon inhabit a wide range of habitats, but are mostly found in coastal waters, bays, estuaries and mangrove-lined lagoons within tropical and subtropical climates. Although a saltwater fish, Tarpon can tolerate a wide range of salinities and often enter rivers and bays. In addition, Tarpon can also endure oxygen-poor environments due to a modified air bladder that allows them to inhale atmospheric oxygen.

Tarpon have been known to exceed 300 pounds. They feed during both day and night and mostly feed on prey such as pinfish, mullet, Atlantic needlefish, sardines, shrimp and crabs. They have minute fine teeth and usually swallow the prey whole except for crustaceans which are crushed by an elongated hard bony plate in the lower jaw.

tarponTarpon typically spawn in May, June and July and migrate to offshore spawning areas where currents then move the “ribbon-like” larvae to inshore nurseries.

Tarpon reach sexual maturity at 6-7 years.

Question: What do Tarpon have in common with the bonefish, ladyfish and true eels?

Answer: Tarpon possess a leptocephalus larval stage which is only seen with the closely related bonefish, ladyfish and true eels. The transformation from the transparent, ribbon-like leptocephalus to juvenile Tarpon occurs in three distinct stages.

Fins Across Florida/Tampa Bay Tarpon - a project to benefit The Outdoor Arts Foundation and Tampa Bay Watch
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