Alternate Title

Evidence of Spawning Capable Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) Off the Louisiana Coast

Document Type

Short Communication


Despite the fact that the tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) is a popular sport fish in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM; Ault et al. 2008), little is known of its spawning behavior. Spawning M. atlanticus have never been documented and fertilized eggs have not been observed in situ (Ault et al. 2008). While it has been suggested that adult M. atlanticus move to deep water off the southwest coast of Florida and into the Yucatan Channel to spawn, the actual locations of spawning grounds remain unknown (Smith 1980, Crabtree et al. 1995, Crabtree et al. 1997). Distribution patterns of larvae (leptocephali) have served as the basis for most of what has been inferred about the spawning areas (Smith 1980, Crabtree et al. 1997). For example, leptocephali were collected from the southwestern GOM, the Yucatan Channel, and along the west coast of Florida, and based on the their size, it was assumed that M. atlanticus spawned in nearby areas (Smith 1980).

Histological examination of gonads has also been used to estimate the location of M. atlanticus spawning habitat. Females collected from the Florida Keys and Boca Grande Pass off the west coast of Florida and contained ovaries with post ovulatory follicles (POF) and advanced vitellogenic oocytes, suggesting M. atlanticus spawn in this region from April through July (Crabtree et al. 1997). Examination of gonads from M. atlanticus caught off the coast of equatorial Ceara State, Brazil suggested that spawning occurs there from October through January (de Menezes and Paiva 1966). We report here the first evidence of spawning capable M. atlanticus off the coast of Louisiana in the northern GOM based on histological examination of gonads.

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