Megalops atlanticus  Valenciennes, 1847

Tarpon
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Megalops atlanticus   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Megalops atlanticus (Tarpon)
Megalops atlanticus
Picture by Patzner, R.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Elopiformes (Tarpons and tenpounders) > Megalopidae (Tarpons)
Etymology: Megalops: Greek, megas, megalos = great + Greek, ops = appearance (Ref. 45335).   More on author: Valenciennes.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; freshwater; brackish; reef-associated; amphidromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 30 m (Ref. 3789), usually 0 - 15 m (Ref. 42064).   Subtropical; 49°N - 44°S, 99°W - 14°E (Ref. 55254)

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 160.0, range 130 - 128.5 cm
Max length : 250 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 2683); common length : 130 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 2683); max. published weight: 161.0 kg (Ref. 26340); max. reported age: 55 years (Ref. 9975)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 13-16; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 22 - 25. Dorsal fin with short base at midlength of body. Anal fin with longer base, origin of posterior end at the level of the dorsal fin. Pectorals origin very low. Scales of the lateral line with ramified tubes. Blue gray back, shiny silvery sides. Swim bladder attached to esophagus and can be filled directly with air; this feature enables this species to live in oxygen-poor (brackish) waters. Large scales, 37-42 in lateral line (Ref. 26938). Last ray extended as heavy filament (Ref. 26938).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Eastern Atlantic: Senegal to Angola, with exceptional occurrences in Portugal, Azores and Atlantic coast of southern France. Western Atlantic: North Carolina, USA to Bahia, Brazil, with occasional occurrences off the American coast northward to Nova Scotia, Canada and southward to Cananéia, Brazil and Argentina. Throughout Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean (Ref. 26938). Eastern Central Pacific: Cobia Island in Panama via the Panama Canal.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Inhabit coastal waters, bays, estuaries, mangrove-lined lagoons, and rivers (Ref. 3789, 27188). Often found in river mouths and bays, entering fresh water (Ref. 27227). Large schools may frequent particular spots for years (Ref. 9710). Feed on fishes like sardines, anchovies, Mugilidae, Centropomus, Cichlidae (mainly those forming schools) and crabs (Ref. 3789, 27188). The swim bladder, attached to the esophagus, can be filled directly with air and permits the fish to live in oxygen-poor waters. Has high fecundity, a 203 cm female is estimated to produce over 12 million eggs (Ref. 10863). Spawn in waters which can be temporarily isolated from the open sea (Ref. 27188). Transparent leptocephalus larvae migrate into estuaries (Ref. 57533). Famous for its spectacular leaps when hooked. Marketed fresh or salted (Ref. 3789). Large scales are used in ornamental work and in preparation of artificial pearls (Ref. 3789). Used to be cultured commercially in Colombia (Ref. 7306). Highly appreciated by sport fishers. The flesh is also highly appreciated despite its being bony (Ref. 27188). The world record for hook and line is 283 lbs. from Lake Maricaibo, Venezuela (Ref. 13442).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Hureau, J.-C., 1984. Megalopidae. p. 226-227. In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. UNESCO, Paris. Vol. 1. (Ref. 3234)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)

  Vulnerable (VU) (A2bd)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 31172)




Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums
FAO(fisheries: production; publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 1.0020   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00891 (0.00360 - 0.02208), b=3.02 (2.81 - 3.23), based on LWR estimates for species & Subfamily-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.5   ±0.8 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.07-0.10; tmax=55; Fec>1 million).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Very high vulnerability (76 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Medium.