Tag: Costa Rica Tarpon

New Pacific Tarpon Study Needs Your Help!

New Pacific Tarpon Study Needs Your Help

Atlantic Tarpon in the Eastern Pacific 80 years after passing through the Panama Canal

The opening of the Panama Canal 100 years ago allowed marine organisms that can cope with passage through 65 km of fresh water to pass between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Atlantic Tarpon, Megalops atlanticus, is one species that has swum through the canal to the Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP).

Tarpon were first seen in the Pacific locks of the 25 years after the opening of the canal, and large adults have subsequently been observed in Panama Bay over many years. Now Tarpon’s TEP geographic range now extends along 2600 km of the coastline (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama to the Colombia/Ecuador border). Small juveniles have been found throughout the main part of its TEP range, up to 700 km from the Panama Canal. As such juveniles are sedentary and have never been seen inside the Panama Canal, they most likely were spawned in the TEP. At present, nothing is known about the basic ecology of Tarpon in the TEP and possible effects it might have on native ecosystems there.

Tarpon biology in its native range

The native range of M. atlanticusincludes warm waters of both the Eastern and Western sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The Tarpon is a large [to 2.5 meters total length, 161 kg], highly migratory, predatory pelagic fish with a long life span (up to 78 years). It matures at a large size and considerable age: minimum ~105 cm for males and ~142cm for females, and 7–10 years respectively, in the US(at a smaller size inCosta Rica and Brazil). Tarpon migrate, en masse, from near-shore waters to the edge of the continental shelf to spawn. Eggs are pelagic and larvae develop in offshore waters for 20-50 days, before recruiting to coastal lagoons and estuaries, where they spend the next 0.5–2 years. Between that stage and when they mature Tarpon inhabit coastal and brackish waters and lateralso use freshwater habitats. Although a few spend time in freshwater or hypersaline water most small juveniles live in brackish,stagnant, hypoxic lagoons. They can readily survive in such habitatby air-breathing, a capacity retained by adults. “Rolling” at the surface to breathe and leaping from the water facilitates detection of Tarpon.History of information on the occurrence of Tarpon in the TEP. For the first time in 1937, the presence of  Tarpon 1–2m long in the Miraflores and Gatun lakes of the Panama Canal was documented. In the early 1970s catches of adult specimens (1–1.5m) in the Miraflores locks were also reported with sport-fishers in the Bay of Panama often reporting catching Tarpon.In the 1980sTarpon were caught at Coiba Island, in the Gulf of Chiriquí and andin a river draining into the eastern side of Panama Bay 300km from the Panama Canal. In the late 1980s fishers recorded juveniles as small as ~ 0.9kg (~ 50cm)in a permanent lagoon at Punta Chame. In the early 2000s Tarpon in the TEP were distributed from southern Costa Rica to northern Colombia. In 2018 Tarpon captures were reported in El Salvador,Guatemala(from 2013), and at the Colombia/Ecuador border, ~800 km from Panama Bay. Thus Tarpon currently ranges across~ 2600 km of the coast of six countries between Guatemala and the Colombia/Ecuador border, and has apparently expanded over the past 20 years

Juvenile Tarpon in the TEP. Juvenile Tarpon have been found at various sites in central and southern Costa Rica, the Gulf of Panama, and Colombia. Small juveniles in a brackish lagoon of Punta Chame, 40 km from the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canalwere reported in the 1980s. Such lagoons represent the type of habitat to look for small Tarpon in the TEP

In the Panama area of the TEP the very large tidal range means that most mangroves drain completely at low tide. Because of this draining successful reproduction of Tarpon in the TEP may be limited by the lack of suitable habitat (hypoxic, “safe-harbor” tidal lagoons) for young juveniles after settlement at the end of the pelagic larval stage.

Is Tarpon likely to become invasive and have adverse effects on native species in the TEP?

Nothing currently is known about the feeding ecology of Tarpon in the TEP, a first step towards assessing what impact it might have. The only biological information available on Tarpon in the TEP that bears on the question of its actual impact is that relating to its restricted geographic range, the low abundance of juveniles, and apparent low abundance of adults. That combination points to a low current impact.Eighty years after it first entered the TEP, and with the continued ability to do so since that event, Tarpon does not appear to have a substantial population in that region. While 80 years may seem a long time, that represents only 6–7 generations for Tarpon.

Low current abundance of Tarpon may in part reflect a long lag-period of expansion for a slow-growing, late-maturing, long-lived organism like Tarpon. While Tarpon may have the potential to become invasive by having adverse impacts in the TEP its population status in its native range indicates that is not particularly likely. Fishing and habitat degradation in its native range represent major threats for this species that have put its population at risk there. A population in the TEP will face the same threats and there is no reason to think it will be more successful at coping with them than the population in the Atlantic. Conclusions and research needed.

Although it is clear that Tarpon can survive in and, almost certainly, is breeding to some extent in the TEP its ecological impact there is unknown. Research on the feeding ecology, growth and reproductive status (gonadal activity) of this species in the TEP would help clarify what impact it might be having and how successful it is at exploiting local food resources.If successful reproduction of Tarpon in the TEP maybe limited by the lack of suitable habitat (hypoxic, “safe-harbor” tidallagoons) for young juveniles then its population may never expand much beyond its present level. Assessment of the availability of such habitats, of physical conditions in them and of their predatory fish faunas in both microtidal (Mexico) and macrotidal parts of the TEP, would be useful in that context.

The recent expansion of the Panama Canal seems likely to have effects on the transfer of alien species between TEP and Western Atlantic. This likely will enhance the exchange of euryhaline marine species between both sides of the Isthmus. More and larger locks and increased shipping movements through the canal inevitably will facilitate the transit of more Tarpon. Monitoring of Tarpon catches on the Pacific coast of Panama could indicate the extent to which that is occurring.An increasing recreational fishing sector in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and potentially, elsewhere in the TEP, can benefit from the existence of Tarpon in the region (e.g. Tarpon fishing in theBayano River of Pacific Panama).

Much of the information presented here has come from local sport fishing operators in those countries. Future research on this species should involve partnerships with this sector in order to understand more comprehensively the implications of the presence of a population of Tarpon that is slowly expanding in the TEP.Read the complete article here:

Have you seen Tarpon (juveniles or adults) in the Eastern Pacific?

Please register its location as precisely as possible, and provide a photograph that will clearly indicate the size of the fish. Also a few dried scales from its back,and/or a small piece of fin (in alcohol) would be most useful for research:

Gustavo Castellanos-Galindo: gustavoa80″@”yahoo.com

D.Ross Robertson: drr”@”stri.org

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Atlantic Tarpon in the Tropical Eastern Pacific_synthesis_revised_Final

 

Tarpon

This Fish Can Live Over 60 Years

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TOP 10 COOL FACTS ABOUT TARPON

FECOP Top Ten Tarpon Fun Facts

 

Yes, fish in general are very cool, but some fish take the “cool factor” to a whole new level. Meet the Tarpon. We think you’ll agree that this is one of the most interesting fish in the sea.

 

  • There are nearly 28,000 different fish, but only two species of tarpon.
  • Tarpon can survive in both salt and fresh water being found in Lake Nicaragua and other fresh water habitats
  • They may shed up to 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch at sea and the eel like larvae drift in shore where they undergo a metamorphosis, shrinking to half the size previously attained and taking on the more recognizable features of the tarpon as they begin to grow again.
  • Fishes were in fact the first vertebrates on Earth and date back to the Paleozoic era — the first fossil evidence of Tarpon is 125 million years old making these fighters older than a TRex.
  • Tarpon can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh nearly 300 pounds
  • There was a 64-year-old tarpon that died in the Shedd Aquarium of Chicago in the 1990s.
  • Tarpon have a potential lifespan of around 150 yrs
  • Tarpon have amazing color vision with five types of cones cells in their eyes, they can see into the ultraviolet spectrum even further than birds and insects that have four types of cones cells in their eyes. In case you are wondering, humans only have three types of cone cells.
  • Throughout history, tarpon scales have been used as nail files, wall art and pulverized for medicinal purposes. In Brazil tarpon scales werre pulverized into a powder and mixed into tea as it is believed to help with asthma,”  “Sadly, the plucked tarpon is most often left to die.” – so stick to your asthma inhaler
  • And the #1 Cool Fact About Tarpon -Tarpon breathe in oxygen from the water using gills, but they can also utilize oxygen from air in the atmosphere,” Guindon explained. “They have for long rows of lung-like material inside a swim bladder that allows this to happen.” Which explains their rolling behavior in waters with low oxygen levels

And if you think those facts are cool….watch this video of one jumping during a Costa Rica fishing trip, video courtesy Capt. Eddie Brown

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Costa Rica Fishing Species Tarpon aka The Silver King

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The King - Silverking Tarpon

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Tarpon aka “Silver King”

Costa Rica Fishing Species: Tarpon

Can I catch Tarpon in Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica boasts some of the best tarpon fishing in the world, and they can be targeted year round. Historically the best tarpon fishing in Costa Rica is October and November.

Region: Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

From the IGFA Fish Database:

Valenciennes, 1846; MEGALOPIDAE FAMILY; also called silver king, cuffum

Occurs in warm temperate tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This coastal fish can be found both inshore and offshore. Because of its ability to gulp air directly into the air bladder by “rolling” at the surface, the tarpon is able to enter brackish and fresh waters that are stagnant and virtually depleted of oxygen. Such areas are relatively free of predators, thus offering a convenient refuge for the young.

The body is compressed and covered with very large scales. The lower jaw juts out and up. The teeth are small and fine, and the throat is covered by a bony plate. The dorsal fin consists of 12 16 soft rays (no spines) the last of which is greatly elongated. The back is greenish or bluish varying in darkness from silvery to almost black. The sides and belly are brilliant silver. Inland, brackish water tarpons frequently
They may shed up to 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch at sea and the eel like larvae drift in shore where they undergo a metamorphosis, shrinking to half the size previously attained and taking on the more recognizable features of the tarpon as they begin to grow again. Tarpon, bonefish, ladyfish and eels all undergo a similar leptocephalus stage, but the first three fish all have forked tails even at the larval state, whereas the eel does not. Tarpon grow rather slowly and usually don’t reach maturity until they are six or seven years old and about 4 ft (1.2 m) long.

Fishing methods are still fishing with live mullet, pinfish, crabs, shrimp, etc., or casting or trolling with spoons, plugs, or other artificial lures. The best fishing is at night when the tarpon is feeding. They are hard to hook because of their hard, bony mouths. Once hooked they put up a stubborn and spectacular fight, often leaping up to 10 feet out of the water. It was one of the first saltwater species to be declared a game fish

Tarpon are such a fascinating species it’s hard to put all the interesting facts about them in a single article here is a great article form the Tampa Bay Times

Tarpon Remain a Fascinating Species

There are some things you never grow tired of seeing — osprey diving for fish, dolphin herding mullet and tarpon cruising along the beach on a calm summer morning. You can keep your trout, snook and redfish. Nothing gets my blood pumping like the silver king of sportfish.

It is usually about this time of year, when the fish are thick in Tampa Bay, that I call Kathy Guindon, the state’s tarpon guru, to learn something new about what I consider the most interesting fish in the world.

Guindon, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, never lets me down. For starters, there are nearly 28,000 different fish, but only two species of tarpon.

“Fishes were in fact the first vertebrates on earth and date back to the Paleozoic era — this makes fish older than the dinosaurs,” she said.

So think about that this weekend if you rush out to see the new Jurassic World movie. The Jurassic and Triassic periods were part of the Mesozoic era that followed the Paleozoic. So while T-Rex may be long gone, we still have tarpon.

The species, which can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh nearly 300 pounds, is currently found in the estuaries and coastal waters throughout the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico; in the eastern Atlantic and along the western coast of Africa.

While the different species of fish have varied life spans ranging from a few weeks to more than 150 years, tarpon have pretty long lives.

“Scientists use a tarpon’s otolith (ear stone) to determine how old it is and count the rings on the otolith very much like counting tree rings to determine a tree’s age,” Guindon explained. “There was a 64-year-old tarpon that died in the Shedd Aquarium of Chicago in the 1990s.”

Tarpon in the wild can live well into their 50s. That’s pretty impressive considering that this species is on numerous predators’ menus. Fish-eating birds feed on young tarpon. Porpoises and alligators sometimes eat larger ones. But by far, the most dangerous predators are sharks. A big bull shark or great hammerhead can easily cut an adult tarpon in half with just one bite.

Although sportsmen prize tarpon for their acrobatic leaps and fighting ability, this species was once hunted for food by the indigenous people of Florida, and South and Central America.

“While tarpon are a catch-and-release fishery here in the USA, I know a researcher studying tarpon in Nigeria who told me she and her family eat tarpon for Christmas dinner,” Guindon said. “This is not acceptable practice here in Florida and that would be against Florida law.”

Tarpon are scavengers and will eat just about anything. Despite their large size, they feed on surprisingly small organisms, including mullet, ladyfish, pinfish, grunts, crabs, threadfin herring, scaled sardines and even catfish.

Another cool fact that is guaranteed to thrill your fishing buddies when the bite drops off: “Tarpon have amazing color vision with five types of cones cells in their eyes,” Guindon said. “They can see into the ultraviolet spectrum even further than birds and insects that have four types of cones cells in their eyes.”

In case you are wondering, humans only have three types of cone cells.

Throughout history, tarpon scales have been used as nail files, wall art and pulverized for medicinal purposes. Guindon participated in the last global stock assessment of tarpon in 2011 where she met a colleague from South America.

“She told me that in Brazil tarpon scales are pulverized into a powder and mixed into tea as it is believed to help with asthma,” Guindon said. “Sadly, the plucked tarpon is most often left to die.”

Perhaps my most favorite fun tarpon fact is this almost mammal-like adaptation: “Tarpon breathe in oxygen from the water using gills, but they can also utilize oxygen from air in the atmosphere,” Guindon explained. “They have for long rows of lung-like material inside a swim bladder that allows this to happen.”

Related Costa Rica Tarpon Fishing Articles

Are Tarpon Breeding in Costa Rica’s Pacific Waters

Amazing Tarpon Video from Costa Rica

This Fish Can Live Over 60 Years

FECOP Featured Fishing Captain, Eddie Brown

Sport fishing in Costa Rica: Where to Go, What You’ll Find

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Costa Rica Stomping Grounds

Caribbean side, Pacific Coast of Costa Rica (rarely),can live in both fresh and saltwater and have even been found in Lake Nicaragua

World Record

TarponThe all-tackle world record tarpon stands at a monstrous 286lbs 9oz. It was caught by Max Domecq off Guinea-Bissau in Africa on March 20, 2003. If that’s not hard enough to take in, try this on for size: prior to that day, Domecq had never caught a tarpon. The near-300lb behemoth, taken on a live mullet, was his first tarpon bite ever. Where do you go from there?

Respect your elders

The oldest tarpon in captivity lived to be 63 years old. So, the next time you’re down in the Keys or off the coast of Costa Rica, and you hook one of the big girls, remember, there’s every chance you’ve just attached yourself to something older than you.

The Name Game

Megalops atlanticus is the Latin name for the Atlantic tarpon. But what does that mean? Well, the “atlanticus” bit I think we can all work out. As for “Megalops”, that’s a combination of two words: “mega” meaning “large” or “extreme”, and “lops” meaning “face”. Sometimes those Latin names don’t seem nearly as clever once you’ve translated them.

May I See Your Passport

Tarpon are more widely distributed than many realize, and are found on both sides of the Atlantic. They’ve been found as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Brazil. Tarpon have also been discovered in small pockets of Pacific waters – off Costa Rica’s Pacific Costa in the South and on the Pacific side of Panama.

Tarpon Video From Tortuguero, Costa Rica by Eddie Brown

Prehistoric Perfection

You have to feel for the tarpon, they’re the classic victims of their own success. Just one look at them and you know this is a fish that’s been around for a while. Fossilised evidence confirms it – with roughly 125 million years of evolutionary development under their belts, these guys have become one of the ocean’s most efficient predators. They thrive in either saltwater or freshwater, they can tolerate oxygen-poor environments thanks to their unique air bladder, they can move at huge speed when hunting prey, and that bucket-sized vacuum for a mouth ensures that when something goes in, it stays in. Ironically, this incredible physiology that has allowed them to survive for so long is exactly what has turned them into such a prized sport fish.

Valenciennes, 1846; MEGALOPIDAE FAMILY; also called silver king, cuffum

Occurs in warm temperate tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This coastal fish can be found both inshore and offshore. Because of its ability to gulp air directly into the air bladder by “rolling” at the surface, the tarpon is able to enter brackish and fresh waters that are stagnant and virtually depleted of oxygen. Such areas are relatively free of predators, thus offering a convenient refuge for the young.

The body is compressed and covered with very large scales. The lower jaw juts out and up. The teeth are small and fine, and the throat is covered by a bony plate. The dorsal fin consists of 12 16 soft rays (no spines) the last of which is greatly elongated. The back is greenish or bluish varying in darkness from silvery to almost black. The sides and belly are brilliant silver. Inland, brackish water tarpons frequently have a golden or brownish color because of tannic acid.

They may shed up to 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch at sea and the eel like larvae drift in shore where they undergo a metamorphosis, shrinking to half the size previously attained and taking on the more recognizable features of the tarpon as they begin to grow again. Tarpon, bonefish, ladyfish and eels all undergo a similar leptocephalus stage, but the first three fish all have forked tails even at the larval state, whereas the eel does not. Tarpon grow rather slowly and usually don’t reach maturity until they are six or seven years old and about 4 ft (1.2 m) long.

Fishing methods are still fishing with live mullet, pinfish, crabs, shrimp, etc., or casting or trolling with spoons, plugs, or other artificial lures. The best fishing is at night when the tarpon is feeding. They are hard to hook because of their hard, bony mouths. Once hooked they put up a stubborn and spectacular fight, often leaping up to 10 feet out of the water. It was one of the first saltwater species to be declared a game fish

Related Articles:

 

Tarpon Jumping Video

Are Tarpon Breeding in Costa Rica’s Pacific Waters

Costa Rica Featured Fishing Captain: Eddie Brown

Read Blog Detail

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