Tarpon have a modified swim bladder which allows them to live in oxygen-poor environments. Alveolar tissue in the swim bladder and a duct connecting the swim bladder to the esophagus allow tarpon to breath atmospheric air. Studies have shown that tarpon are obligate air breathers. Even in oxygen-rich environments tarpon still gulp air from the surface. (Hill, 2002; Luna, et al., 2005; Morey, 2000)
The sexual maturation of (Hill, 2002)is based primarily on the length of the fish. In males it occurs between 90 to 117.5 cm and in females at approximately 128.5 cm. This maturation can occur between the ages of 6 to 13 years for both sexes.
Tarpon spawn seasonally and are multiple spawners. These fish have been seen swimming in a circular, rotating fashion. This movement may be a way for tarpon to initiate spawning. Large schools of (Hill, 2002), 25 to 200 individuals, migrate offshore to spawn. Tarpon are broadcast spawners. Fertilization of the eggs is external.
Large schools of (Hill, 2002), 25 to 200 individuals, migrate offshore between May and August to spawn. There is some evidence to suggest that tarpon can spawn year round, but this is not common. There is also evidence to suggest that the lunar phase influences when tarpon spawn. Successful hatchings occur within the week following a new moon. These fish have a very high fecundity rate, with large females producing more than 12 million eggs. Tarpon spawn in the deeper waters and allow the currents to carry their eggs to inshore nurseries to develop. The eggs hatch into leptocephalus larvae after two or three days.
Tarpon expend energy travelling to their breeding grounds and producing their eggs and sperm, but they make no further investment in their offspring. (Hill, 2002)
Information on the home range of tarpon is unavailable. (Morey, 2000)
The word "Megalops" translates from the Greek language as "large-eyed". The eyes of (Luna, et al., 2005)are a very prominent feature and aid tarpon in hunting for prey. Tarpon have been known to make thumping noises to communicate with those around them or to scare off predators when they become startled. These noises are produced by vibrations in the swim bladder.
The diet of fish, and insects. As adults, tarpon move away from zooplankton and feed only on fish and crustaceans. Some main food sources are Atlantic needlefish (Strongylura marina), pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides), and many species of crabs and shrimp. swallows its prey whole because of the small size of its teeth. Tarpon feed mostly on mid-water prey during the day and night. (Hill, 2002; Luna, et al., 2005; Morey, 2000; Hill, 2002; Luna, et al., 2005; Morey, 2000)changes throughout development. In the first stage of their development, tarpon get nutrients directly from the water. As juveniles, they feed on zooplankton, small
Tarpon exhibit a color pattern called countershading, which most fish use as a method to prevent predation. Their dorsal surface is generally a dark color. When a predator is looking down on a tarpon from above, the dark color of its dorsal side helps it blend in with the dark, deep waters. The ventral surface of most fish is lighter in color, silver in the case of the tarpon. This countershading helps it blend in with the lighter color of the surface water when a predator is looking at it from below. (Morey, 2000)
Lecithochirium microstomum, a trematode parasite, is found in the stomachs of tarpon, and Bivescula tarponis, another trematode parasite, occurs throughout the intestines. The isopods Nerocila acuminata and Cymothoa oestrum, and the copepod Paralebion pearsei, are found on the external surfaces of tarpon. Commensal remoras often attach themselves to large tarpon and go along for the ride. (Morey, 2000)
Tarpon mainly benefit humans through recreational activities. In Florida, tarpon are a very important game fish, bringing in millions of dollars annually through charter fishing trips. In some areas, (Hill, 2002; Luna, et al., 2005; Morey, 2000)is marketed for its flesh. It is considered a delicacy in South America despite the fact that it is very bony. Large scales of tarpon are used as ornamentation on home decorations and are also used in the manufacturing of artificial pearls.
There have been a few reported cases of ciguatera poisoning from eating tarpon. Ciguatera poisoning causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Neurological signs of poisoning include headache and temperature sensitivity and cardiovascular signs can include arrhythmia and reduced blood pressure. There have also been reports of injuries and even deaths to sport fishers attempting to catch tarpon. These fish are very large and have lots of thrashing power when hooked on a fishing line. When pulled into a boat they can thrash their bodies around vigorously and injure the angler. It is best to wear out the fish before pulling it on board to avoid any injury. (Hill, 2002; Morey, 2000)
The effects of catch and release fishing programs onare not yet fully understood. Releasing tired fish may make them unable to recover quickly. Tarpon may then die from oxygen deprivation or become easy prey for predators. Permits are now being issued to anglers who intend to catch and kill these fish. For a small permit price, two tarpon per licensed angler are allowed to be caught and killed each day. The angler must also report information on where the fish was caught and its size to the Florida Marine Research Institute for further tarpon research. This permit program has greatly reduced the number of tarpon killed over the past few years. In 1989, just before the permit program was instituted, it is estimated that 342 tarpon were caught and killed by anglers. In 1998, the number of tarpon caught and killed by anglers decreased to 70.
Allison Poor (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Jennifer Burnham (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kevin Wehrly (editor, instructor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.
uses sound to communicate
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
areas with salty water, usually in coastal marshes and estuaries.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
an area where a freshwater river meets the ocean and tidal influences result in fluctuations in salinity.
fertilization takes place outside the female's body
union of egg and spermatozoan
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.
makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
An aquatic biome consisting of the open ocean, far from land, does not include sea bottom (benthic zone).
an animal that mainly eats fish
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
uses sight to communicate
breeding takes place throughout the year
animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae. (Compare to phytoplankton.)
Hill, K. 2002. "Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce: Megalops atlanticus" (On-line). Accessed October 13, 2005 at http://www.sms.si.edu/irlspec/Megalo_atlant.htm.
Luna, S., R. Reyes, R. Froese. 2005. "Species Summary: Megalops atlanticus" (On-line). Accessed October 13, 2005 at http://fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Megalops&speciesname=atlanticus.
Morey, S. 2000. "Biological Profiles: Tarpons" (On-line). Accessed October 13, 2005 at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/Tarpon/Tarpon.html.