Tarpon: An Incredible Fish

May 11, 2022

Based on a podcast by Capt. Tom Rowland and Dr. Mike Larkin.
If you’ve ever visited the Hawks Cay Marina, you surely noticed the giant silver fish swimming around. Those fish, tarpon, are a lot more interesting than you’d expect. Captain Tom Rowland, host of The Saltwater Experience filmed out of Hawks Cay Marina, recently interviewed Marine Scientist Dr. Mike Larkin on the Tom Rowland Podcast. He shared some interesting facts about these amazing fish that people love to watch feed when our captains come in.
TR: Where did they come from?
ML: The ancestor of tarpon first arrived in the Jurassic period swimming in the waters when t-rexes were still on land, around 145 million years ago. Through evolution, today’s tarpon (scientifically called megalops atlanticus) showed up on this planet roughly about 23 million years ago.
TR: How do they see?
ML: From the high density of rods and cones in their eyes, we know that tarpon have the best vision directly in front of them, and they also see well above them. Their unique vision capabilities help tarpon to see above the water.
TR: How long do they live?
ML: Based on the decay rate of the otoliths of tarpon (the bone structure in their ear helping them to sense the world around them), we have found that they can live to be as old as 78 years old. And with this in mind, it is the female tarpons who live longer and weigh more.
TR: Where do they migrate to?
ML: We’ve seen tarpon travel as much as 2,000 miles throughout their migration! We’re talking Mexico to Louisiana. We’ve also seen some tarpon travel up to 20 miles a day, traveling toward their ideal 79-degree temperature of water.
For more on tarpon with Captain Tom Rowland and Dr. Mike Larkin, tune in to episode 597 of the Saltwater Experience here, or watch the YouTube filming here.