Tarpon are the only members of the Megalops family. There are two species of tarpon in the world, the Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) and the Indo-Pacific tarpon (Megalops cyprinoides). Both species can be found in both saltwater and freshwater habitats.
The habitat of tarpon varies greatly depending upon their age. Young ones can be found in shallow, warm water relatively close to the surface. Most will venture out into the open waters of the ocean when they reach adulthood, though some will actually remain in freshwater.
Reaching 8 feet in length and weighing up to 280 pounds, tarpon are an impressive fish and can put up quite a fight against even the most savvy of anglers. This is one of the reasons that they end up on the wall.
Even though can do so through their gills, tarpon rely heavily on their swim bladders to breathe which is why they can often be spotted rolling on the surface of the water. The science of this goes beyond the scope of this write up however, but if interested you can find out more here.
Interesting Facts About Tarpon
- Tarpon have the nickname ‘silver king’ due to their shiny, silvery scales and the flash they produce as they leap out of the water.
- The world record tarpon was a whopping 286 lbs, 9 oz. and was caught off of the coast of Guinea-Bissau in Africa in 2003.
- They are toothless and swallow their prey whole. Their diet consists mostly of sardines, shrimp, crabs, mullet, and other small fish.
- The rolling they are so famous for makes them easier to spot. Groups of 20 or more can be found rolling together and make for quite a sight.
- Tarpon are one of the most highly prized sport fish due to their fighting ability. It’s generally thought that only the blue marlin can compete with the endurance, explosiveness, and leaping ability of the tarpon.
- Tarpon are a catch-and-release fish. One tarpon tag can be purchased each year for any angler in pursuit of a state or world record.