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Striped marlin swims 1,397 nautical miles to win the IGFA Great Marlin Race

By Staff | Dec 21, 2017

Fifty-seven tags were deployed on 28 blue marlin, 27 black marlin and two striped marlin in the 2016-17 IGFA Great Marlin Race.

The sixth year of the IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR) has officially come to a close with 57 tags deployed on 28 blue marlin, 27 black marlin and two striped marlin in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii and California, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Panama and Seychelles. Altogether, the billfish swam a combined linear (location of tag deployment to location of tag pop-up) distance of 16,429 nautical miles (nm) and collected 2,632 days of tracking data.

One small marlin, however, accounts for 8.5 percent of the total distance swam last year: an estimated 36-kilogram (80-pound) striped marlin that swam a remarkable 1,397 nm in 216 days!

On Sept. 30, 2016, just two weeks after the 35th annual Master Angler Billfish Tournament (MABT) in Balboa, California angler Jeff Acampora fought the winning striped marlin for about 17 minutes before Hooked Capt. Geoff Hersch released the fish with a satellite tag for the Dana Angling Club.

The fish then swam south for about one month to the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, made a couple of loops in that area for another month and then headed southwest into the Pacific. After traveling to about three degrees north of the equator, the marlin turned northwest and swam in that direction until the tag popped off. The overall track for this fish tag is 5,560 nautical miles!

The entry was collaboratively sponsored by Jeffrey Tom, Geoff Hersch, David Peter, Jason Blower, Paul Caraher, Chris Bailey, Greg Zucchero, David and Tucker Guyot, Craig Cleaver, Robert Phillips, Richard Tunilla, John Tully, Dan Gorman and Peter Nannis.

Congratulations to these sponsors and Dana Angling Club for winning the 2016-17 IGFA Great Marlin Race!

Since the inaugural MABT IGMR event in 2014, 16 striped marlin have been satellite-tagged off the coast of California. Data received from these tags have demonstrated that these fish follow similar patterns from year to year, with the majority of marlin swimming south before moving offshore into the Pacific.

While this winning striped marlin followed this general trend, it swam significantly more south than any fish in previous years. Equatorial water temperatures have been cooling in the Pacific, and this may have facilitated the larger southern movement by this marlin.

Striped marlin are the third most tagged billfish species in the IGMR, with tags deployed in Hawaii, California, Ecuador and New Zealand. They are also considered the mostly widely distributed of the istiophorid billfishes in the Pacific, with the greatest abundances occurring in the eastern and northern Central Pacific Ocean.

Their distribution is somewhat horseshoe-shaped, with the base centered on the south Central American coast with extensions to both the northwestern and southwestern Pacific. Genetic research indicates that there are at least three stocks of striped marlin: AustraliaNew Zealand, JapanSouthern CaliforniaHawaii, MexicoCentral America and a perhaps a fourth stock of mature fish in Hawaii.

These sponsors, Capt. Geoff Hersch and members of the Dana Angling Club, have actively participated in the IGMR since 2014, and IGFA is thrilled to invite and honor the Dana Angling Club during the 34th annual IGFA International Auction on Jan. 27, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.