We’re fortunate to work around a pretty knowledgeable staff at our lodges. In fact, a surprising number of our team members hail from pretty scientific backgrounds with degrees in fisheries biology, environmental science, geology and so on.. That makes for some pretty wild fish facts thrown around the camp fire from time to time.
Every now and then we hear a fun fact about the fish we pursue at our lodges and think, “I bet our readers would think that’s pretty interesting.” So, today we kick off a series of posts we’re calling, ‘fish facts,’ where we present weird, sometimes useless, but nonetheless interesting facts about our quarry.
Today’s fish fact comes from Alaska West guide, Jason Whiting. Not only is Jason a great guide, he’s super educated as well, with degrees in Environmental Economics and Fisheries Biology. He recently let us in on this fact about juvenile bonefish and tarpon that we thought was pretty cool, and think you might too! Thanks Jason!
Fish Facts – Bonefish Related to Eels?
At Andros South, we are lucky to chase huge amounts of bonefish and the occasional tarpon throughout our season. One unique and often overlooked trait that these fish share during their lifecycle is that they both have a leptocephalus larval form. Bonefish and Tarpon are both classified within the superorder Elopomorpha that contains all fish that share this larval stage.
What does this mean? It means that they are more closely related to eels than most other salt-water species around them! That’s right.. Eels.
When these fish hatch, they maintain a thin, clear, ribbon like appearance for up to 3 months, and it is this appearance that gains the leptocephalus classification. During this time they live in near shore waters feeding on tiny particles floating around in the ocean sometimes called “marine snow,” which is different from other forms of juvenile fish that tend to feed on various forms of zooplankton instead.
Over the course of a couple months the larvae grow to a maximum of around 60mm. When they begin making the transformation into a fry, the larvae will actually shrink to about half its size while gaining a lateral line, scales, and the overall “true fish” appearance. Once they reach the final juvenile form, their life continues much like any other fish as they feed and grow into full adults.