Some tarpon from Boca Pass like to travel to Key West and back.
Others would rather hang around home.
Biologists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote Marine Laboratory say they have learned more about tarpon movement and seasonal habitat preferences in year seven of the Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study.
Researchers track tarpon thanks to volunteer anglers who submit tarpon DNA samples to the FWC. The greatest distance recorded between an initial catch and a recapture is 280 miles from a tarpon reeled in near Apalachicola in July 2007 and recaptured near Captiva in May 2009.
Anglers participating in the study, including those in and around Gasparilla Island, have confirmed some tarpon move long distances and others stay close to home.
The FWC information is no revelation to Cappy Joiner, president of the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association.
"We've always known. That," Joiner said. "We've known for 100 years this fish comes from the south. They collect fish as they come, which is why there's so darn many of them."
Biologists also found a connection between tarpon habitats in Southwest Florida and those of the Florida Keys.
Anglers sampled two tarpon in Charlotte Harbor during August 2010. Both fish were caught the following spring in the Florida Keys - more than 150 miles away. These tarpon were initially sampled inshore at the end of a spawning season, in close proximity to offshore areas in the Gulf where spawning is presumed to occur.
Sampling of another tarpon showed the fish can travel a similar distance in a shorter time. The tarpon was caught near Islamorada in July 2011, about one month after an angler reeled it in during peak spawning season near Sarasota.
Researchers track tarpon thanks to volunteer anglers who submit tarpon DNA samples to the FWC. Through recaptures, when an angler catches and samples a tarpon that was previously sampled, biologists compare catch times and locations to determine movement.
The greatest distance recorded between an initial catch and a recapture is 280 miles from a tarpon reeled in near Apalachicola in July 2007 and recaptured near Captiva in May 2009.
Anglers have submitted more than 13,000 tarpon DNA samples to the FWC, including more than 4,000 in 2011. Among the samples, researchers have documented about 100 recaptured tarpon.
To assist the study, obtain a free tarpon DNA sampling kit by e-mailing TarponGenetics@MyFWC.com or call (800) 367-4461.