Atlantic Tarpon

Atlantic tarpon are known for high leaps and fast runs and have long had a powerful appeal for sport fishermen, some of whom helped develop Tarpon, Texas in the mid-1880s, later known as Port Aransas. However, declines in tarpon numbers were noticed by the mid-1950s, evidently due to freshwater diversions, overfishing, and water pollution. Despite strict bag limits, populations have been slow to recover.


Narrator: Bill BalboaTitle: Cabbagehead JellyfishDuration: 00:02:03Date: September 20, 2022The Atlantic tarpon has seen a decline in its populations off the Texas coast since the mid-1950s. It is not clear what the causes might be, though there are suspicions that overfishing and freshwater cuts might be factors. It is clear that there have been significant changes in historic flow from the Colorado River, due to dams, channels and diversions, and shifts in other, less charismatic species, like the cabbagehead jellyfish, that are likely meaningful in some still unknown way.Narrator: Bill BalboaTitle: FDRDuration: 00:02:09Date: September 20, 2022Mr. Balboa, serves as the Executive Director of the Matagorda Bay Foundation, and earlier worked for Texas A&M AgriLife Sea Grant program and for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Here he tells the story of how he wound up with a very famous fish - a tarpon caught by Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt near Port Aransas, back in 1937.Narrator: Scott HoltTitle: Bananas and PineapplesDuration: 00:02:21Date: April 11, 2023Scott Holt is a fisheries ecologist who worked at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute for over three decades, studying red drum, croaker, spotted seatrout, red snapper, and other species. His research also considered Atlantic tarpon, and here he speculates on the factors behind the tarpon's decline in Texas. He doubts that dams had a big impact, but sees agreement that there was a lack of recruitment, and likely a problem with agricultural runoff in nursery waters off the eastern Mexican coast.Narrator: Joan HoltTitle: Spawn and RearDuration: 00:03:29Date: June 21, 2023Joan Holt, Ph.D., a researcher, professor emerita, and former director of the UT Marine Research Institute in Port Aransas, has had long experience with spawning and rearing fish for release in the wild, most notably the redfish. However, she believes that it would be very difficult to do the same for Atlantic tarpon, and thinks that it would be better to ensure that tarpon have good quality habitat in bays and lagoons, and have protection to grow to an age when they can reproduce naturally.Narrator: David SikesTitle: InflowsDuration: 00:04:41Date: October 17, 2022David Sikes served as the outdoor columnist for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times for over two decades. Here he discusses the factors behind the decline of the Atlantic tarpon along the Texas coast, speculating that the damming of the state's rivers led to cutbacks in nutrient inflows and bait fish numbers in Texas' coastal bays, in turn hurting tarpon populations.Narrator: Paul SwacinaTitle: CollapseDuration: 00:05:02Date: December 16, 2022Paul Swacina, a Corpus Christi attorney, is a long-time angler and conservationist. He has been especially interested in understanding and reversing the decline in the Atlantic tarpon, once plentiful off Texas' coast. Here he describes some of the factors behind the tarpon population's collapse during the mid-20th century, including dam construction, shrimp fishing, oil and gas activity, hurricane impacts, and netting.