Post Expedition Report – September 14, 2014
– 2014 Belize Tarpon Tagging Expedition a Success
In it’s third year, the 2014 Belize Tarpon Tagging Expedition occurred over two weeks this August. A group of fly fishermen from all over the US traveled to northern Belize to enable global tarpon research. The expedition was lead by Dr. Jerry Ault, internationally renowned Marine Biologist and Director of the Tarpon and Bonefish Research Center at the University of Miami, the legendary Tarpon Master Captain, Stu Apte and Chicago Fly Fisherman and Conservationist, Adam Marton. Home base was El Pescador Lodge and Villas on Ambergris Caye and support was provided by Front Range Anglers.
The ultimate goal of the expedition was to catch, land, place satellite tags and safely release the tagged migratory tarpon. The satellite tags enable scientists from the University of Miami to study behavior patterns and collect factual data about where these long-lived, migratory fish travel to after they are tagged. The hope is the data collected will unlock some of the secrets of the migration patterns and regional connectivity of this specific population of tarpon. The long-term goal is to one day be able to provide this fact based data to resource managers and government officials from all over the world so they can make even more intelligent decisions about how to successfully manage the fisheries resource for generations to come.
Recent studies have shown that individual tarpon can exceed 70-years in life span. Tarpon have been swimming in the oceans of our planet for 100-million years and some adult fish migrate thousands of miles annually. They can be found all over the Gulf of Mexico, in the Atlantic Ocean, throughout the Caribbean Sea and in Africa.
The fishing was quite good and in total the expedition team managed to hook 23 tarpon over the 12 fishing days. Of the 23 fish, 10 were landed. The tarpon ranged in size from 30 pounds to well over 100 pounds. Of the 23 tarpon hooked 4 were estimated to have been over 80-pounds. Scientists have learned that after 80-pounds, tarpon reach sexual maturity, begin migrating and therefore make good tagging candidates. Of the four 80+ pound fish one was landed and tagged.
On August 13th, assisted by Captain Cesar of El Pescador, Michael from Boulder, Colorado landed (photo below) a magnificent tarpon that was tagged and released by Adam Marton around 10:30 a.m. This fish is now referred to as “T245”. Seconds after the tag was placed on “T245”, the tarpon was released and very quickly swam out of view. Early indications showed that T245 was on the move and the tag was working.
In addition to fishing, the expedition included daily skill building workshops, seminars on the science of tarpon research and a Field Trial Program with tarpon fishing products from Fishpond, Dr. Slick, Ross Reels, R.L. Winston Rod Company and Costa Del Mar.
It is our hope that this expedition will prove to advance the world’s understanding of global tarpon behavior and provide valuable fact based information to resource managers and government officials across the planet as they make decisions moving forward.
The 2015 Belize Tarpon Tagging Expedition will occur August 15-22 and El Pescador Lodge and Villas will once again play host.
The successes of this expedition and others like it are the by-product of a critical partnership between anglers and scientists. If you want to pave the way for a sparkling future for the Silver King, get involved, get in touch and lend a hand.
– El Pescador has been recognized as one of the world’s greatest saltwater fishing destinations for Bonefish, Permit and Tarpon and is now it’s 40th year of operation.
– The Tarpon and Bonefish Research Center (TBRC) at the University of Miami (UM) is an unparalleled leading international initiative for gathering and sharing scientific knowledge, educational resources and policy development related to the sustainment of marine sport fisheries and their ecosystems. The TBRC raises awareness across the recreational fishing and scientific communities necessary to promote collaborative efforts, which result in sustainable outcomes for tarpon, bonefish and permit populations.
– Adam Marton, Expedition Leader
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