Megalops cyprinoides 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Elopiformes Megalopidae

Scientific Name: Megalops cyprinoides (Broussonet, 1782)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Indo-Pacific Tarpon
Brisbania staigeri Castelnau, 1878
Clupea cyprinoides Broussonet, 1782
Clupea thrissoides Bloch & Schneider, 1801
Cyprinodon cundinga Hamilton, 1822
Megalops kundinga Bleeker, 1866
Megalops curtifilis Richardson, 1846
Megalops filamentosus Lacepède, 1803
Megalops indicus Valenciennes, 1847
Megalops macrophthalmus Bleeker, 1851
Megalops macropterus Bleeker, 1866
Megalops oligolepis Bleeker, 1866
Megalops setipinnis Richardson, 1843

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-06-29
Assessor(s): Adams, A., Guindon, K., Horodysky, A., MacDonald, T., McBride, R., Shenker, J., Ward, R. & Sparks, J.S.
Reviewer(s): Raminosoa, N., Rasoloariniaina, R, Ravelomanana, T. & Velosoa, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Harwell, H. & Darwall, W.R.T.

The species is widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to the Society Islands, northward to Japan and southward to Australia. However, very little information is known regarding the life history, demographics, and harvest of this species. Given the reliance of this long-lived species on habitats susceptible to human disturbance and the unknown magnitude of commercial landings in the Philippines and Malaysia, this species is currently listed as Data Deficient. Future research and monitoring is warranted.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Megalops cyprinoides occurs throughout the Indo-West Pacific, including South Africa (Natal), East Africa (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi), Madagascar, the Mascarene Basin, and Seychelles, north to the Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf (Kuwait), east to the South China Sea, Taiwan Straight, East China Sea, and South Korea, south through the Arafura Sea to New South Wales and New Caledonia, east to the Austral, Mariana, Caroline, Palau, and Marquesas Islands, as far as the Tuamotu Archipelago (Broussonet 1782, Smith 1986, Yu 1986, Russell and Houston 1989, Skelton 1993).  

It has been reported in Zimbabwe from the Save-Runde junction, and as far inland as the lower Shire in Malawi (Skelton 1993). This species is also widespread in the Lower Zambezi River channels north to Marromeu and in the Micelo River north to Malingapanzi (Bills 1999).

Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia (Coral Sea Is. Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia); Bahrain; Bangladesh; Cambodia; China (Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan); Cook Islands; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Fiji; French Polynesia (Society Is.); Guam; Hong Kong; India (Andaman Is., Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Nicobar Is., Orissa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal); Indonesia (Kalimantan, Papua, Sulawesi, Sumatera); Iran, Islamic Republic of; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Mauritius (Mauritius (main island)); Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar (Myanmar (mainland)); Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Oman; Pakistan; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Qatar; Réunion; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Swaziland; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tonga; Tuvalu; United Arab Emirates; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen; Zimbabwe
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southeast; Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – eastern central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):50
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species is common in parts of its range, and over 300 museum records exist (Fishnet2 Portal 2011).

Larval recruitment occurs in strong seasonal peaks. In Australia, this species ranked third in abundance of all species sampled by Davis (1988) in Leanyer, Northern Territory. Larval M. cyprinoides was among the most abundant species collected on night time flood tides in Taiwan estuarine creek (Tzeng et al. 2002).

Megalops cyprinoides
were collected using inter-tidal stake traps (hadrah) from Failakah Island in Kuwait during a study conducted from October 2001 to December 2002. Specimens collected from the control net (19 mm mesh size) totalled 188, and 188 specimens were also collected using the 51 mm mesh size net (Al-Baz et al. 2007).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species is found in depths to 50 m in coastal waters and ranges inland to hundreds of kilometres upstream in rivers and floodplains (Pusey et al. 2004). It is commonly observed near the surface in shallow inshore waters (Shenker pers. comm. 2011). This species inhabits coral reefs, small lakes (billabongs), mangrove swamps, rivers, reservoirs, floodplains, coastal bays and  canals. The favoured inshore habitat may be wave-dominated estuaries, having lower temperature and salinity but higher silicate levels (Ley 2005). It may be more common in systems with unmodified river flows. This species appears to be more active early in the night than during the day (Ley 2008).

In Papua New Guinea, it has been reported to occur under large mats of Salvinia molesta. It is one of the few fishes beside Ariidae reported to be caught under these mats (Coates 1987). It is commonly found far inland in rivers and floodplain lakes in Madagascar (J. Sparks pers. obs.)

This species is believed to spawn offshore, but locations of spawning grounds and subsequent dispersal of larvae remain uncertain. In India, M. cyprinoides inhabit the estuary of the Waltair Coast as juveniles and progress to coastal areas for final maturity and spawning (Kulkarni 1983, Padmaja and Rao 2001), where spawning may occur twice a year (Padmaja and Rao 2001). A single larva was collected from the Great Barrier Reef approximately 25-45km off the mainland (Leis and Reader 1991).  Larvae swim or drift with tidal currents and recruit to shallow coastal nurseries in 20-40 days post-hatching (Tsukamoto and Okiyama 1997, Tzeng et al. 1998). This species may be considered a marine transient species (Day et al. 1989) in tropical and sub-tropical estuaries.

Larval biology includes a leptocephalus stage, complete metamorphosis into juveniles occurs in approximately 10 days (Tsukamoto and Okiyama 1993,1997; Chen and Tzeng 2006). Pusey et al. (2004) suggest that M. cyprinoides acheives sexual maturity at age 2-years at length 30 cm, another study in Papua New Guinea by Coates (1987) suggest length at maturity at 40 cm. Systematic analyses of this species' reproductive biology is needed to provide important biological parameters such as length-at-maturity, fecundity, and related reproductive behaviour (Ley 2008).

This species has been known to live up to 44 years (Kulkarni 1983). Maximum size of 1.5 m TL have been reported, however, this record needs to be verified. In South Africa, maximum size recorded is 0.5 m TL (Coates 1987). An average maximum size of 0.6 m TL seems probable (Ley 2008).

The diet of M. cyprinoides, summarized from four trophic studies, is highly diverse and consists of insects, fish, crustaceans, and even plants, though they are classified as opportunistic, intermediate carnivores (Ley 2008).
Systems:Freshwater; Marine
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Megalops cyprinoides is of minor commercial importance to the fisheries industry, mainly utilized as a gamefish (Whitehead 1984, Pethiyagoda 1991, Kottelat et al. 1993, Smith 1997). This species is cultured in ponds and its fry is sourced from the coasts (Kottelat et al. 1993). It is edible but not esteemed (Smith 1986). This species is caught in artisanal fisheries in India and Papua New Guinea, but no catch data are reported. It is reported in commercial landings in the Philippines and Malaysia (FAO 2006). It is also caught as bycatch. Recreational catch data are scarce throughout its range, however, it is frequently taken by sport anglers in northern Australia.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Potential effects of fishing in parts of its range remain unknown in the absence of catch records. Effective stock assessments in countries where this species is exploited (i.e., Philippines and India), are not possible given the current dearth of population information. Larvae and juveniles rely on mangrove and estuarine habitats, and loss of these habitats may limit production. Larger individuals are more abundant in wave-dominated systems (Ley 2005) where freshwater flow from riverine tributaries is both substantial and unaltered by diversions or dams. Changes to these freshwater delivery systems may reduce the habitat quality for this species. Declining water quality may significantly affect this species; heavy metals and industrial effluent have been shown to hamper gonadal growth and development (Padmaja and Rao 2001).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for this species. Its distribution overlaps with marine protected areas in parts of its range. More research is needed on its population status, ecology, and the impacts of fishing on this species.

Citation: Adams, A., Guindon, K., Horodysky, A., MacDonald, T., McBride, R., Shenker, J., Ward, R. & Sparks, J.S. 2016. Megalops cyprinoides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T166868A46642796. . Downloaded on 23 June 2018.
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