THE ATLANTIC TARPON FISH LIFE IN NICARAGUA

What is a Tarpon? The Megalops Atlanticus

The Atlantic tarpon fish,  (Megalops atlanticus) is the tarpon scientific name of the fish, inhabits coastal waters, estuaries, lagoons, and rivers. Tarpons feed almost exclusively on schooling fish and occasionally crabs.

A Megalops is capable of filling its swim bladder with air, like a primitive lung. This gives the tarpon a predatory advantage when oxygen levels in the water are low. Tarpons have been recorded at up to 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) in length and weighing up to 161 kg (355 lb).

The Megalops Atlanticus is one of the most sought-after species in sport fishing. Their capacity to jump high, their hard-to-get character, its enormous size, and its spectacular fight has earned the fish names like The King or The Silver King. In the northern part of the Caribbean side of Nicaragua, calling them Tapam in Miskito language.

It is a fast, agile, and mysterious fish. It evokes an incurable fascination for it. We admire the Atlantic Tarpon very much, have nothing but passion and respect for it.

We have lived through unbelievable moments catching this fish and we have always considered each one as a true adventure. Catching it is such an exciting and complex experience that it requires continuous learning.

How long does Atlantic Tarpon live?

The Atlantic tarpon behavior in this area of the Caribbean is more lively than in other places and is one of the reasons that its size can grow up to 300 pounds. The male’s lifespan is between 40 and 50 years and between 70 and 80 for the females.

Atlantic Tarpon Lifespan

The fact that the Silver King Tarpon is not acceptable for human consumption makes up most of the studies on this fish about preservation. Such studies have resulted in interesting data that help us better know the fish.

For example, it lays its eggs at high sea level so that during hatching the larvae can go near estuaries and mangrove swamps where they can be in areas without oxygen. That way, they can feel safe from predators and can develop up to 3 or 4 years of age, which is the time when they begin eating other fish, crabs, shrimp, and worms.

When the Atlantic Tarpon reaches the age of 8, it’s considered to be in its adult phase and ready to undergo great The medium temperature for this fish is around 23.8 degrees Celsius 75 Fahrenheit. The fish avoid areas where water is cooler and tend to go near the coast.

Another interesting characteristic is thatMegalops can breathe air. Up until now, it was mistakenly known that they would emerge from the water to breathe air whenever they were in rivers with less oxygen.

Megalops atlanticus moves in a very specific way before mating. This movement, in which they move in circles, has been called “Daisy-chaining”. Many fishermen believe that it is the moment when the females release their eggs to be fertilized by males.

It is hard to know because when this happens, there are hardly any larvae left neither on the mating location nor near it others say their migrations seemingly are only limited by water temperature because  Atlantic Tarpons prefer water temperatures of 72 to 82 °F; below 60 °F they become inactive, and temperatures under 40 °F can be lethal. However, scientists and experts do not fully agree with this hypothesis.

Because of this, it is still considered a mystery, but the Silver King Tarpon spawns in the deep sea.

This is a Yellow Fin Atlantic  Tarpon, very rare and difficult to see. There are albino fishes but few others have yellow coloration with spots in front of their faces and fins. Others are more black and others more silver. In Nicaragua, we have a continuous Silver King Tarpon population with a great genetic diversity thanks to the protection of its environment.

Habitat of the Atlantic Tarpon

However, Silver King Tarpon behaves the same way when they are in oxygenated waters and new research seems to have proven that this is because of behavior learned during their younger phase. This conduct has been called “ Rolling Tarpon “ because of the advantage the fish gets when trying to catch it.  They can get oxygen quickly and obtain it through the air and along with its bronchial capacity. This makes catching them extremely difficult.

Where are Tarpon Found?

Atlantic Tarpon fish can be found anywhere from the coast of North Carolina in the U.S to the Republic of Angola, Gabón; there have also been some sightings off the coast of Portugal.

Tarpon is found all year in the Río San Juan and in the Indio River.

Atlantic Tarpons are also found in the Caribbean sea of Nicaragua. There are some that do not travel and can be found in nearby lagoons. The size of those found in the San Juan River frequently surpass 2 meters and 140 pounds, some 200 and even some that grow up to 300. In the Indio River there are a number of them that swim and live all year-round, some found in the highest areas of the river.

Fishing the Silver King Tarpon in the nearby areas of the Rama Garden Fishing Lodge is an exceptional experience. We can fish them in the main rivers, in their river heads,  in lakes or in the Caribbean Sea.

Atlantic Tarpon Migration

The migration of the Atlantic tarpon , fish has been tracked and has been discovered that they can travel up to 1,609 kilometers 1000 miles. These studies have shown that the fish are capable of reaching depths of 400 feet where it is believed to be an ideal place for mating due to the water pressure which helps females lay their eggs.

These fishes migrate long distances but there are also many of them that only solely move to their nearest areas. That is why the theory related to its reproductive migration seems to be mistaken and it is believed that the Megalops Atlanticus swims longer distances when in search of food.

On the other hand, the population that we have on our Nicaraguan coast has a tendency to migrate north and south of Costa Rica. They swim on the San Juan River until they reach the Cocibolca Lake and all along the river basins and their swamps around the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua where we are.

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