TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Elopiformes (Tarpons and tenpounders)
Family: Megalopidae (Tarpons).

Genus/species: Megalops atlanticus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: This fish reaches lengths of 2.5 m (8 ft) and weights of 160 kg (350 lbs). It has a large, elongated, moderately deep and compressed body. Sides and belly are silvery and back blue-gray. The caudal fin is deeply forked. The species has a habit of “rolling” at the surface. This behavior helps them take air into their lunglike swimbladder. This swim bladder, attached to the esophagus, can be filled directly with air and permits the fish to live in oxygen-poor waters.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Nova Scotia south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and the West coast of Africa. Though the majority of its life is spent in the open ocean, but M. atlanticus tolerates fluctuating salinities and may be found in coastal waters, bays, estuaries, mangrove-lined lagoons, and rivers, such as the Amazon.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed on sardines, anchovies, and other fishes as well as shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT:  Spawn offshore. High fecundity; a 2.3 m (7.5 ft) female is estimated to produce over 12 million eggs. Spawn in waters which can be temporarily isolated from the open sea. Larvae develop inshore and are leptocephalic in shape (flattened, tansparent, and eel-like).

PREDATORS: Natural predators are sharks.

REPRODUCTION: They spawn offshore and exhibit high fecundity, a 2.3 m (7.5 ft) female is estimated to produce over 12 million eggs. They can also spawn in waters that are temporarily isolated from the open sea. Larvae develop inshore and are leptocephalic in shape (flattened, transparent, and eel-like). Life span: at least 55 years.

REMARKS Tarpon are among the most “primitive” extant bony fish.

It is a popular game fish of sportfishers, due to its dynamic reaction once hooked. Since the flesh is of poor quality, they are usually released, though another source states, “The flesh is highly appreciated despite its being bony.” It is marketed fresh or salted.

Their large (up to 8 cm (3 in) diameter) silvery scales are fashioned into jewelry.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red list; Vulnerable.

LOCATION: Flooded Amazon

References

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-9e

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3458838683/in/set-72157620568438047/

“It’s Easy Being Green” Docent Course. California Academy of Sciences 2014 

 fishbase fishbase.org/summary/1079

 Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/339927/details