tarpon (tärˈpŏn) [key], common name for members of the family Elopidae, large herringlike game fish of the warm seas of the Western Hemisphere, ranging occasionally from Long Island to Brazil and to the west coast of Africa and entering freshwater streams freely. Their heavy, silvery scales, sometimes used as ornaments, give them the name silver king. Tarpons average 6 ft (183 cm) in length and 150 lb (67.5 kg) in weight, although some may be over 8 ft (244 cm) long and weigh more than 300 lb (135 kg). Active and predacious, they prey on schools of small fry. They are favorites of deep-sea fishermen, particularly Tarpon atlanticus, found in the warmer parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Tarpons are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Clupeiformes, family Elopidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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