Tarpon, Megalops atlanticus (Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1847), are large, beautiful, silvery fish that reach up to 250 cm and weigh up to 161 kg. The average life span is 55 years.
Other scientific names (synonyms) include: Tarpon atlanticus (Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes,
1847), Clupea gigantea (Shaw, 1804) and Clupea thrissoides (Bloch and Schneider, 1801).
Their dorsal fin is located at mid-body and an anal fin is found at the posterior end. Pectoral fins are low on the body. Tarpon have very large scales; 37-42 scales along the lateral line. Their coloring is bluishgray on the dorsal side with very bright silvery sides. They possess a swim bladder attached to their esophagus which enables them to live in oxygen-poor (brackish) waters. Last ray extended as a heavy filament.
The swim bladder, attached to the esophagus, can be filled directly with air and permits the fish to live in oxygen-poor waters.
The tarpon is a favorite fish of sport fishermen and is known for its spectacular leaps when hooked in an attempt to get away. The flesh is very bony. The world record for tarpon caught using a hook and line is 128 kg. from Lake Maricaibo, Venezuela. When afraid, the tarpon produces sound in the form of thumps using its swim bladder.