Tarpon

January 27, 2022

Today’s animal of the day is the Tarpon. Tarpons are saltwater fish belonging to the family Megalopidae (order Elopiformes). They are related to bonefish and ladyfish. 

Characteristics: 

  • A Tarpon is distinguished by an extended final dorsal fin ray and a bony neck plate between the protruding lower jaw’s sides. 
  • The lower mandible of the Tarpon extends well beyond the gape, giving it a superior mouth.
  • The Tarpon’s most distinguishing trait is its almost vertical, silvery sides, which are made up of huge scales.
  • The fins have no spines and are entirely made up of soft rays. The dorsal fin is tall anteriorly and has 13-15 soft rays, the last of which is significantly extended into a thick filament.

Habitat:

  • Tarpons are found throughout a vast portion of both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The Eastern Atlantic range runs from Senegal to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The fish inhabits the Western Atlantic’s warmer coastal waters, primarily along the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the West Indies. 
  • Tarpons, however, are not prevalent as far north as Cape Hatteras, and their extreme range stretches from Nova Scotia to Bermuda and south to Argentina.
  • Tarpons have been discovered at the Panama Canal’s Pacific terminal and in the area surrounding Coiba Island.

Fun Facts: 

  • Anglers’ most frequently used nickname for the Tarpon is the silver king, which refers to the bright flash that reflects off its large silver scales when it leaps into the air.
  • Though a Tarpon generally spooks readily and exhibits considerable caution when approached by humans, they do injure humans on rare occasions, and typically inadvertently. The majority of injuries occur when a fisherman attempts to release a Tarpon following a struggle.

 

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