Biologists Need Help From Public Collecting Tarpon Genetic Information

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Biologists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) and Mote Marine Laboratory need help from Florida anglers to collect tarpon genetic information.  

The tarpon genetic recapture study gives anglers throughout Florida the opportunity to make a direct contribution to advancing scientific research for one of the state’s most popular sport fish. FWRI provides a free and easy-to-use sampling kit to anglers who are interested in collecting DNA samples. The kit contains an abrasive pad that anglers can use to remove skin cells from the outer jaw of the tarpon. Anglers should leave the fish in the water unless they have a harvest or possession tag to attach to the fish.

Biologists welcome samples from any tarpon regardless of size or capture location. Each DNA sample identifies a tarpon’s unique genetic “fingerprint.” Scientists compare new tarpon DNA samples with cataloged samples to determine if the tarpon has been caught and sampled previously. Scientists also use this information to determine movement of tarpon in waters off the coast of Florida.

Participants can obtain a tarpon DNA sampling kit by e-mailing TarponGenetics [at] MyFWC [dot] com, calling 1-800-367-4461 or visiting and searching for “tarpon.”

Anglers who collect and return a DNA sample directly to FWRI or to one of the statewide collection centers will be entered in a random drawing for various prizes.

The FWRI and Mote researchers have successfully identified a total of four recaptured tarpon in state waters from the Miami, Florida Keys, Sanibel and Tampa Bay areas.  FWRI will notify anglers if any of the fish they sample are recaptured.  

To learn more about FWRI research projects, visit