| Ecological Descriptors
|Pel, Man, Br
||200 (record 2.5m)
Body stout without markings. Scales thick, large and shiny, with the scales of the lateral line having branching tubes. One dorsal fin with a short base but with a long filament. Base of the anal fin longer. Tail forked. Origin of pectoral fins very low. Mouth upturned/ superior.
Inhabit coastal waters, bays, mangrove-lined lagoons and ponds, to a depth of 40 m. They are tolerant of wide ranges in salinity and oxygen concentrations and are often found in brackish lagoons. Large schools may inhabit a particular area for years. Juvenile habitats include stagnant pools, back waters, ephemeral coastal ponds and hurricane and storm overwashes, swales, and mangrove swamps and marshes, as well as man-made habitats Feed on fish and crabs. The vascularized swim bladders of Tarpon allow aerial respiration, permitting juveniles to inhabit hypoxic inshore waters where they presumably experience low predation rates and have little competition for prey
Tarpon are batch spawners. Schools of gravid tarpon migrate from near-shore and inshore habitats to form large prespawning aggregations approximately 2-25 km offshore presumably before moving up to 200-250 km offshore for spawning. The exact timing, cues, and zones of tarpon spawning have not been described, although it may be triggered by lunar cycles. Larvae have an extended oceanic planktonic stage (Phase I) followed by recruitment into brackish water nursery areas. Phase II begins at the onset of metamorphosis where larvae shrink in size from about 26 mm to 14 mm. Phase III is reflected by positive growth again through cycloid scale formation and is finished upon tarpon reaching sizes of ~40 mm in length. Phase II and Phase III larvae and juvenile tarpon will inhabit stagnant pools, back water, salt marsh and shallow mangrove lined areas that are low in dissolved oxygen and high in organic matter. Metamorphosis is believed to take place in inshore waters.
They are late to mature and long-lived. Size at sexual maturity is at ~88cm (males) and ~110cm (females), equating to an age of ~7 (male) to 10 (female) years. The life span of a tarpon can be in excess of 50 years.
(C) Ross Robertson
(C) Ross Robertson