Tarpon

Megalops atlanticus

Family Megalopidae - tarpons

Distinguishing
Characteristics
Body elongate, laterally compressed; mouth arched upward, lower jaw protruding past upper jaw; dorsal fin base short, originates about midbody, last dorsal fin ray very elongated; anal fin base longer than dorsal fin base, originates behind dorsal fin base; pelvic fins abdominal, well behind pectoral fins but still in front of dorsal fin origin; gular plate (a flat bone) on the underside between the lower jaws; scales large.
Similar Species
Similar to the ladyfish, Elops saurus, but the ladyfish (also called skipjack) does not have an elongated dorsal ray and its scales are small. Somewhat similar to a bonefish, Albula vulpes, but the bonefish's snout extends past the lower jaw and it also does not have an elongated dorsal fin ray.
Habitat
Gulf and bay, sometimes found in poorly oxygenated waters
Maximum Size
250 cm (8 ft), common to 130 cm (4 1/2 ft)
Fin Element Counts
D. 13-15; A. 22-25 (explain)
Other Common Names
silver kings
Previous Scientific Names
Comments
Can breathe atmospheric oxygen through a specialized bladder; Great sports fish, known for its ability to leap out of the water when hooked.
State size/bag limits
Minimum size is 85 in.; bag limit is 1; Check for state record.