Tarpon atlanticus

Author: Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1847

Tarpon atlanticus Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1847

Status in World Register of Marine Species:
Accepted name: Megalops atlanticus Valenciennes, 1847 (updated 2009-06-25)

Diagnosis: body moderately deep with almost vertical sides. Head moderately short and deep with dorsal outline nearly straight and horizontal; snout considerably shorter than eye in small specimens, becoming equal and longer than eye during growth; eye 3.3-4.7 in head; mouth superior with mandible projecting far beyond the gape; maxillae broad, curved, extending under posterior part of eye in young, but far beyond eye in
large specimens. Gillrakers 19-21 + 36-40, rather long and slender, scarcely denticulate. Dorsal fin high anteriorly, its last ray produced in specimens over 100 mm long; anal fin somewhat elevated anteriorly; pelvic fin inserted more than an eye's diameter in advance of dorsal fin origin. Dorsal finrays 13-15, anal finrays 19-25, pectoral finrays 13-14. Lateral line complete. Scales large with crenulate membranous border. Vertebrae 53-57. Colour: back blue-grey, sides silvery. Size: to 250 cm, usually 130 cm.

Habitat: coastal waters, estuaries, salt or brackish waters and sometimes freshwaters; tolerates oxygen-poor conditions, young frequently occurring in pools or lakes disconnected from the sea (able to take atmospheric air into a lung-like bladder). Food: carnivorous, feeding almost exclusively on fishes forming schools, such as sardines, anchovies, mullets. Reproduction: becoming adult at 100-120 cm, it moves into open waters to spawn between late April and August. Numerous (to 12 millions) small demersal eggs (0.6-0.75 mm). The transparent leptocephalus larvae migrate into estuaries.

Distribution: only four records in the Clofnam area, one near the coasts of the Azores, one near the Tagus estuary and two in the Bay of Biscay (44° 00' N, 01° 35' W). Generally in tropical or subtropical coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia, Bermuda and southward to Brazil in the western Atlantic and from Mauritania to Angola in the eastern Atlantic.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. No data.
Otoliths (sagitta). No data.