Tarpon, that silver beast called Megalops Atlanticus, whose flashing visage leaping from the ocean through the air is immortalized in the Vatican, has thrown its fight at everyone from Ernest Hemingway to the legions of Florida sport fishermen who consider it one of the world’s most fun fish to do battle with. Maybe that’s why they get the respect of a catch and release. Well, that and they’re called not-good-eatin. Either way, here are the top 10 facts you must know about Florida Tarpon.
10. Michelangelo chose to depict the story of the prophet Jonah and The Whale with a tarpon instead of a whale on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
9. Tarpon breathe mostly underwater, but they can break the surface and take a gulping breath of fresh air. Most fish can’t take in oxygen this way.
8. Tarpon can live to be 80 years old.
7. A female tarpon can lay up to 12 million eggs in one spawning season.
6. In Florida, it is illegal to target Tarpon for sportfishing from a bridge because it can leave a long trail of fishing line behind the fish.
5. Tarpon swim the whole Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Africa to the Florida Keys and even into the Gulf of Mexico.
4. Tarpon have no teeth. They eat other fish and crabs by swallowing them whole.
3. The Florida State Record for Tarpon is 243 pounds and was caught in Key West.
2. Tarpon are found in salt water, fresh water, and brackish water.
1. Tarpon are known to fight so hard that they have actually killed fishermen by thrashing when they are landed on the boat before they are fully tired out.