Tagged Tarpon Travels 450 Miles in a Month

I’m always following The Bonefish And Tarpon Trust’s efforts to save habitat and some of our favorite fish through research and outreach. And this recent info is pretty fascinating. Read on to learn what a 45 pound tarpon, caught and tagged in the lower Keys, did during the month following its capture. —GT

BTT began to acoustically tag tarpon this past May in an effort to expand on knowledge of tarpon habitat use and movement at different life stages. We just received report of the first tarpon detection from BTT’s acoustic tarpon tagging program, and it has provided fascinating new insight on tarpon movement.

Helios is an approximately 45-pound tarpon sponsored by Perk Perkins, CEO of The Orvis Company. It was caught on a live crab and tagged in late May in the Lower Florida Keys by BTT scientists from UMass Amherst and Carleton University, and was the second fish ever tagged as part of the program. We just received word from colleagues that their receiver near Port Orange, Florida detected Helios in late June. This relatively small tarpon traveled over 400 miles in a month!

Here’s where Helios traveled in the month after capture.

This detection is really special because it’s the first time we have been able to actively track fish in this size range—previous satellite tagging efforts funded by BTT were limited to tagging fish 80 pounds or larger. A 45-pound fish like Helios is years from becoming sexually mature, which has been considered the size that tarpon start longer distance migrations. It’s also pretty remarkable that it traveled so far in a short period of time.
This underscores the importance of acoustic tagging to provide new insight into tarpon movement and habitat use during different life stages, and will provide information that is critical to BTT’s conservation efforts. Stay tuned for more recaptures and fascinating new insights on these amazing creatures.

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