Image from the University of Miami
For many years, it has been speculated that adult tarpon migrate vast distances during their annual runs. Last week, the University of Miami (FL) publish the results of an 18-year long study which shows just how far adult tarpon move.
MIAMI—The results of an 18-year study of Atlantic tarpon by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science revealed that these large silvery fish take extensive seasonal migrations—1,000s of kilometers in distance—beyond U.S. borders. The new findings can help protect the fish, which is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN–International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the main draw of a more than $6 billion catch-and-release sportfishing industry in the United States.
Using electronic satellite tags, the UM research team tracked nearly 300 Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) in coastal waters of the western central Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, including as far away as Mexico, Belize, and Nicaragua. The results showed that the mature tarpon make extensive seasonal migrations along a warm, seasonally moving ocean-water feature known as the 26o C isotherm where temperatures remain constant. They also found the fish use both freshwater and estuarine habitat throughout their life and identified several previously unknown spawning locations in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
“Our findings show that there is international connectivity in the U.S. multibillion-dollar recreational tarpon fishing industry,” said Jerry Ault, UM Rosenstiel School professor and a co-author of the study. “This is of great importance to anglers and scientists alike to better understand and protect this valuable—and vulnerable—fish and the people who rely on it.”
To read the remainder of the study results, check out this article from the University of Miami!