The great race for marlin research

Aussie marine insurance company represents at US marlin tournament.

The great race for marlin research
The great race for marlin research

Australian insurance company Nautilus Marine has sponsored the recent Great Marlin Race in Hawaii, a catch and release tournament dedicated to billfish research.

The Great Marlin Race is essentially a tag and release tournament among sponsors, and allows researchers to learn about the mysterious secrets of the Pacific blue marlin.

Game fishermen from around the world descend on Kona, Hawaii for the event. There is, however, a rather unusual method for determining the winner.

It is not the sponsor who lands the biggest marlin that wins, if that were the case then Nautilus Marine would have taken home the crown thanks to the whopping 362kg fish caught by Ian Frith, the company’s chairman.

Instead, the winner will not be decided until 120 days after the event when the tags pop off the marlin and float to the surface, transmitting data back to the laboratory. The tags will have recorded where the marlin have travelled, how deep they dive and what water temperatures they encounter. The winner of the Great Marlin Race will be awarded to the marlin that has covered the greatest distance.

The nine tags deployed in 2010 demonstrated a broad range of migratory paths, with the winning Marlin travelling 2,282nm. Some tags were even found across the equatorial region, an unusual area for animals to migrate across due to the combination of high-temperature surface water and oxygen-poor water below.

The Great Marlin Race is part of the longer-term tagging program Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators (GTOPP), a multi-disciplinary research initiative to study the migratory behaviour of different kinds of sea animals.

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