The strength, stamina and fighting ability of a “silver king” make tarpon one of Florida’s most popular game fish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking folks, especially north Florida folks to reel one in and sample it. These samples are needed to assist the Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study.
Tarpon DNA helps scientists learn more about the fish’s rich life history, from its anatomy to its catch history. Each year, willing anglers supply the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute with DNA “fingerprint” data from tarpon and then release them to jump and challenge anglers another day. The FWRI especially needs DNA samples from fish larger than 30 inches hooked in northeast and northwest Florida.
“While we have a significant amount of information about tarpon in the southern portion of the state, we need more information about this fish in the north,” said FWC researcher Kathy Guindon. “As a result, for the remainder of this year we are shifting the emphasis of the Florida Guides Association-FWC Spirit of Tarpon DNA Sampling Challenge to waters from Brevard County and Pasco County north.”
Participants in the challenge have until mid-January 2015 to submit their samples. Winners will be announced later that month.
This study, ongoing since 2005, relies on data collected by anglers who submit samples and information about their catches using a free, easy-to-use tarpon DNA sampling kit. Volunteer anglers have submitted more than 19,600 samples to date.
To obtain a DNA sampling kit, please call 800-367-4461 or email TarponGenetics@MyFWC.com. The FWRI collected 3,386 DNA samples from anglers last year, and staffers look forward to another productive year and hope to learn a lot more about this important marine fish.
“We owe the success of this project to the volunteer anglers who have contributed samples and to those who have supported us in their businesses and through outreach efforts. We look forward to receiving northern samples, as data from those areas will be critical in evaluating the full range of statewide movement patterns,” said Guindon.