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Tarpon illustration


World Record ~ 283 Lbs 4 oz. Caught at Sherbro ls., Sierra Leone on Apr. 16, 1991 by angler Yvon Victor Sebag

Scientific name ~ Megalops Atlanticus

Other names ~ Silver King, Atlantic Tarpon, Cuffum

Identification ~  The Tarpon is bright silver along the sides and belly with large scales. Along the back  tarpon usually appear dark blue to greenish-black. However, the color may appear brownish or brassy for individuals inhabiting inland waters. The dorsal and caudal fins have dusky margins and often appear dark. The tarpon has a superior mouth with the lower jaw extending far beyond the gape. The fins contain no spines, but are all composed of soft rays. The tail fin is deeply forked, and the lobes appear equal in length.

Size ~  Angler caught Tarpon are in the 40 to 100 pound range with fish over 150 pounds being rare. Female tarpon can grow to lengths of  8 feet and reach weights of  300 pounds. The male Tarpon are generally smaller. Tarpon are slow-growing fish and do not obtain sexual maturity until reaching an age of 6-7 years and a length of about 4 feet. Tarpon may live longer than 50 years

Habitat ~ Tarpon populate a wide variety of habitats, but are primarily found in coastal waters, bays, estuaries, and mangrove-lined lagoons within tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates. Although a marine fish, tarpon can tolerate living in fresh, brackish, or salt water and often enter river mouths and bays and travel upstream into fresh water. Tarpon inhabit a large range on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The range in the Eastern Atlantic extends from Senegal to the Congo. In the Western Atlantic, the fish primarily inhabit warmer coastal waters concentrating around the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the West Indies. However, tarpon are not uncommon as far north as Cape Hatteras.

Feeding Habits ~ Adult Tarpon are strictly carnivorous and mostly feed on mid-water prey such as mullets, pinfish, marine catfishes, Atlantic needlefish, sardines, shrimp, and crabs. Tarpon feed during both day and night. The tarpon have minute teeth only and usually swallow their prey whole.


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