This prehistoric animal is considered one of the
most diverse and interesting creatures in the world.
The tarpon is the only fish with an air bladder,
which allows it to absorb oxygen and live in waters
with almost no oxygen content. Tarpon are also called
tarpum, sabalo real, cuffum, silverfish or silver
king and belong to the bony fish family Elopidae.
The Latin designation is Megalops atlanticus.
These extraordinary fish can be found on both sides
of the Atlantic, having been seen as far north as
Nova Scotia and as far south as Natal, Brazil. Across
the Atlantic, tarpon are found from Senegal to the
Congo. Spawning takes place offshore as far as 125
miles, and the young make their way to shallow estuarine
coastal waters. Females lay up to 15 million eggs.
While only microscopic at birth, tarpon have been
documented at lengths of more than eight feet and
weighing more than 280 pounds. The average tarpon
weighs about 75 to 85 pounds, with numerous fish
well over 100 pounds. Some catches weighing more
than 200 pounds have occurred. A fish more than
100 pounds is generally a female, and the rate of
growth is very slow, taking 8 to 10 years to reach
sexual maturity. Tarpon can live 55 to 60 years.
Fossil research shows that tarpon have been swimming
in our oceans since prehistoric times.
Tarpon can reach sizes up to 8 feet and can weigh
up to 280 pounds.
The life span of a tarpon can be in excess of
50 years. The oldest tarpon in captivity lived to
be 63 years old.
Due to its majestic appearance of size and color,
the tarpon is nicknamed "silver king."
Tarpon are primarily found in shallow coastal
waters and estuaries, but they are also found in
open marine waters, around coral reefs, and in some
freshwater lakes and rivers.
Tarpon range from Virginia to central Brazil in
the western Atlantic, along the coast of Africa
in the eastern Atlantic, and all through the Gulf
of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.
Because of its strength, stamina, and fighting
ability, the tarpon is one of Florida's premier
Tarpon have a special ability to gulp air at the
surface when they are in a habitat that doesn't
provide enough oxygen.
In their larval stage, tarpon are transparent,
have a ribbonlike body and prominent fanglike teeth,
and are less than an inch long.
Tarpon can only be fished recreationally in Florida.
The majority of recreational anglers practice catch
and release since the fish is not considered to
be of any food value. However, anglers can possess
them for trophy purposes at the cost of $50.00 per
tag, per fish. Without this tag, possession is illegal.
If tarpon tags are purchased, anglers need to
mail their return cards to the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission's Florida Marine
Research Institute by the end of August each year.
the Silver King
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