Characteristics and Behavior:
The tarpon is a large and energetic fish known for its robust, elongated body, green-hued countershading, and shiny, silver scales. They are most often seen in small schools patrolling shallow seabeds and can reach a size between 4-8 feet in length and weigh as much as an adult human. The species displays a unique "rolling" behavior, where they gulp air periodically to fill a swim bladder with additional oxygen to support their active lifestyle. Thanks to this extra oxygen, tarpon have become famous for their powerful leaping ability and aerobatic displays, able to jump as high as 10 feet in the air.
- Tarpon are found in warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to the West Indies, and along the Atlantic coast of the Americas, from Florida to Brazil.
- They inhabit a variety of environments, including coastal waters, estuaries, lagoons, and open ocean, and are particularly known for their presence in mangrove-lined coastal areas.
- Florida is renowned for its world-class Tarpon fishing, with prime Tarpon habitats in the Florida Keys, Tampa Bay, and the Everglades, among other locations.
- Tarpon have a relatively long lifespan, with individuals often living for over 50 years.
- They reach sexual maturity at around 7 to 13 years of age, with females typically larger than males.
- Reproduction involves the release of eggs into the open ocean, where the eggs hatch into larvae and are transported by ocean currents to estuaries. There, they metamorphose into juvenile Tarpon.
- Ancient Fish: Tarpon are often referred to as "living fossils" due to their evolutionary history, which dates back to the Eocene epoch, over 50 million years ago.
- Silver King: Tarpon are often called the "Silver King" due to their stunning silvery coloration and majestic presence. They are one of the most sought-after gamefish species worldwide.
- Catch-and-Release: Many anglers practice catch-and-release when targeting Tarpon, as their populations have faced pressures from overfishing. Florida, in particular, has strict regulations to protect Tarpon, with a strong emphasis on sustainable fishing practices.