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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

  Common names: marlin (English), aguja (Espanol), merlín (Espanol)
 
Makaira nigricans Lacepede, 1802


Blue marlin


Body only slightly compressed laterally; bill rounded in cross section;  adults with small teeth; nape strongly elevated; first dorsal fin rays 40-45, front rays elevated into triangular peak, remainder of fin very low; height of anterior lobe < than greatest body depth; second dorsal fin rays 6-7; pectorals long and narrow,  moveable and can be pressed against body, 20-23 rays; pelvic fins filamentous, distinctly shorter than pectoral fins; tail base with two keels; anus close to origin of anal fin; lateral line a single line, often obscured in adults; body covered with small, triangular scales. 


Blue black dorsally and silvery white ventrally with about 15 cobalt-colored vertical rows of round spots or narrow bars; first dorsal fin blackish or dark blue; other fins blackish brown, sometimes tinged with dark blue.

Size: attains 500 cm; all-tackle world record 498 Kg.

Habitat: pelagic, oceanic.

Depth: 0-200 m.

Circumtropical in tropical and temperate seas; California to the SW and central eastern Gulf of California to Peru and the oceanic islands.

   
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Biology

Oceanic species. Water color affects its occurrence, at least in the northern Gulf of Mexico, where the fish show preference for blue water. Rarely gathers in schools and usually found as scattered single individuals. Feeds mainly on fishes but also preys on octopods and squids. Marketed fresh or frozen (Ref. 43). Feeding takes place during daytime. Maturity reached at about 80 cm in males and 50 cm in females (Ref. 36731). Females grow larger (Ref. 4770).
  • Nakamura, I. 1985 FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(5):65p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43)
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Distribution

Makaira mazara is distributed mainly in the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. It is the most tropical of all billfishes.

In the Atlantic Ocean, its range extends to around 40-45N in the North Atlantic and to 40S in the western Atlantic, 30S in the central South Atlantic and 35S in the eastern south Atlantic, but is absent from the Mediterranean Sea. In the Pacific, its range extends to about 45N in the western North Pacific, 35N in the eastern North Pacific, 35S in the western South Pacific, and 25S in the eastern South Pacific. In the Indian Ocean, its range extends to 45S in the southwestern Indian Ocean and 35S in the southeastern Indian Ocean.

Larvae are found extensively in the tropical and subtropical waters of the western and central Pacific Ocean, south of Maldives Islands, around the Mascalene Islands, and off the south coasts of Java and Sumatra in the Indian Ocean. In the western central Atlantic, larvae are found off Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Jamaica, Bahamas, Arecibo, and also off Brazil in the southwest Atlantic.

Biogeographic Regions: indian ocean (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )

  • Nakamura, I. 1985. FAO species catalogue. Vol.5. Billfishes of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. Rome: United Nations Development Programme Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
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Range Description

An epipelagic oceanic species, blue marlin is often found in wide open blue waters with surface temperatures between 22° and 31°C. It is the most tropical of the billfishes. Its latitudinal range changes seasonally, expanding northwards and southwards in the warmer months and contracting towards the equator in colder months.

In the Eastern Pacific it is found from California to the southwestern and central eastern Gulf of California to Peru, including all of the oceanic islands. In the Atlantic Ocean, adults are commonly found in the tropics within the 24°C isotherm.

In both the eastern tropical Pacific and the eastern tropical Atlantic, Blue Marlin concentrate in shallower waters than in the western part of both oceans due to hypoxia-based habitat compression over oxygen minimum zones in the eastern tropical seas (Prince et al. 2010).


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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Atlantic Ocean: in tropical and temperate waters
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Zoogeography

See Map (including site records) of Distribution in the Tropical Eastern Pacific 
 
Global Endemism: All species, TEP non-endemic, Indo-Pacific only (Indian + Pacific Oceans), "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific), All Pacific (West + Central + East)

Regional Endemism: All species, Eastern Pacific non-endemic, Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic, Continent + Island (s), Continent, Island (s)

Residency: Resident

Climate Zone: North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California), Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap), Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos), Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo), South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
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Atlantic Ocean: in tropical and temperate waters. We follow Nakamura 1985 (Ref. 43) in recognizing Makaira mazara and Makaira nigricans as two distinct species chiefly because of differences in the pattern of the lateral line system. Many scientists, however, do not recognize this character as specifically diagnostic and consider the latter species as a single pantropical species occurring in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Highly migratory species, Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (Ref. 26139).
  • Nakamura, I. 1985 FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(5):65p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43)
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Circumglobal in tropical through temperate seas, including Mascarenes, Hawaiian Islands.
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Warm waters of the northwestern Atlantic, straying northward to the Gulf of Maine.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder, 1953; Nakamura, I., 1985.
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Depth

Depth Range (m): 0 (S) - 200 (S)
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Physical Description

Morphology

Makaira mazara possesses a long bill that is very stout and round in cross section, with a conspicuous elevated nape (the part of neck posterior to the head). Small, file-like teeth line both jaws and the roof of its mouth. It has two dorsal fins, and two anal fins. The body is densely covered with elongated, thick bony scales, each with mostly 1 or 2, sometimes 3 posterior points. Body coloration is blue black on the dorsal side and silvery white on the ventral side, with approximately 15 rows of pale cobalt-colored strips made up of round dots and/or narrow bars running down both sides of the body. The first dorsal fin is blackish or dark blue, while the other fins are usually dark brown, sometimes tinged with dark blue. The bases of the anal fins are tinged silvery white.

When swimming rapidly, M. mazara can fold its first dorsal, first anal, and pectoral fins down into fin grooves on the body to increase streamlining. In contrast, the pectoral fins of its near relative, Makaira indica (black marlin), are rigid and cannot be folded back against its body.

Makaira mazara is one of the largest fish in the world. Weight averages between 126 kg and 181 kg. Length averages from about 200 to 300 cm lower jaw fork length (LJFL), which is measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the posterior margin of the middle caudal ray. The largest male recorded in the scientific literature is 170.3 kg, 263.1 cm LJFT, while the largest female is 748.0kg, 445.8 cm LJFT.

Sexual dimorphism is exhibited in weight, where the females are typically heavier than males. Weight dimorphism begins at 140 cm LJFL when the females start growing at a faster rate than the males. Females usually grow to at least 540 kg, while males seldom exceed 160kg.

Range mass: 748 (high) kg.

Average mass: 126-181 kg.

Range length: 455.8 (high) cm.

Average length: 200-300 cm.

Other Physical Features: heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

  • Wilson, C., J. Dean, E. Prince, D. Lee. 1991. An examination of sexual dimorphism in Atlantic and Pacific blue marlin using body weight, sagittae weight, and age estimates. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 151: 209-225.
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Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 45 - 50; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 19 - 23
  • Nakamura, I. 1985 FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(5):65p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43)
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Size

Length max (cm): 500.0 (S)
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Size

Maximum size: 4220 mm FL
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Max. size

500 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 11441)); 500 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 636.0 kg (Ref. 40637); max. published weight: 820 kg
  • IGFA 2001 Database of IGFA angling records until 2001. IGFA, Fort Lauderdale, USA. (Ref. 40637)
  • Randall, J.E. 1995 Coastal fishes of Oman. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 439 p. (Ref. 11441)
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to 422 cm FL (male/unsexed); 500.0 cm TL (female);
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder, 1953; Nakamura, I., 1985.
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Diagnostic Description

Description

Oceanic species usually found in waters with surface temperatures ranging from 22° to 31°C. Water color affects the occurrence, at least in the northern Gulf of Mexico, where the fish show preference for blue water. Rarely gathers in schools and usually found as scattered single individuals in the open ocean. Feeds mainly on fishes but also preys on octopods and squids.
  • Anon. (1996). FishBase 96 [CD-ROM]. ICLARM: Los Baños, Philippines. 1 cd-rom pp.
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Body blue-black above and silvery white below, with about 15 rows of pale cobalt-colored stripes; 1st dorsal fin plain blackish or dark blue, other fins brown black with a tinge of dark blue in some specimens; anal fin bases with a tinge of silvery white. Lateral line a network of interconnecting canals (Ref. 26938).
  • Nakamura, I. 1985 FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(5):65p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43)
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Ecology

Habitat

Makaira mazara is an epipelagic and oceanic species. It is the most oceanic of all istiophorids, usually remaining far from land except where the continental shelf is narrow. It can be found in waters with surface temperatures of 22-31C, but it prefers the warm mixed layer above the thermocline, and spends the majority of its time in the uniformly warm near-surface waters from 25-27C. It shows preference for blue waters, at least in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: pelagic

  • Block, B., D. Booth, F. Carey. 1992a. Depth and temperature of the blue marlin, *Makaira nigricans ,* observed by acoustic telemetry. Marine biology, 114: 175-183.
  • Block, B., D. Booth, F. Carey. 1992b. Direct measurement of swimming speeds and depth of blue marlin. Journal of Experimental Biology, 166: 267-284.
  • deSylva, D., P. Breder. 1997. Reproduction, gonad histology, and spawning cycles of north Atlantic billfishes (Istiophoridae). Bulletin of Marine Science, 60: 668-698.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This epipelagic and oceanic species is mostly confined to the waters on the warmer side of the 24°C surface isotherm and known to undergo seasonal north-south migrations. It is found to 1,000 m depth but spends the highest percentage of its time at shallower depths, and is not usually seen close to land masses or islands, unless there is a deep drop-off of the shelf. This species can dive as deep as 1,000 m, but it remains mostly within the upper 40 m. It is believed to form small-scale schools of at most 10 individuals. Larger fish tend to swim solitarily (Nakamura 1985) but smaller ones form aggregations.

It feeds on squids, tuna-like fishes, crustaceans, and cephalopods (Nakamura 1985). Spawning probably takes place year-round in equatorial waters to 10°N/S and during summer periods in both hemispheres to 30°N/S, in both the Indian and Pacific oceans (Kailola et al. 1993). In the southern hemisphere, concentrations of spawning fish probably occur around French Polynesia (Howard and Ueyanagi 1965). In Brazil, spawning occurs February to March from 20–23°S, primarily in the Abrolhos Archipelago (Amorim et al. 1998). Most of the individuals captured at this location have been juveniles (Amorim pers. comm. 2010).

Maximum time at large recorded is 11 years (Ortiz et al. 2003). Maximum age is estimated to be at least 20 years (Wilson et al. 1991). Maximum age is estimated in the Pacific as 27 years (females) and 18 years (males) (Hill et al. 1989). Age estimation in marlins is problematic and longevity information from the Pacific has also been applied to the Atlantic. Age at maturity is estimated to be two years (Prince et al. 1991, Torres-Silva et al. 2006). Using longevity estimates of 20 years and 27 years, and age of maturity of two years, the generation length was estimated to be between 4.5–6 years. The generation length is calculated as: age of first reproduction + z * (longevity - age of first maturity), where z is 0.15 (Collette et al. 2011).

The all-tackle game fish record is of a 636-kg fish caught off Vitoria, Brazil in 1992 (IGFA 2011).

Systems
  • Marine
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Habitat Type: Marine

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nektonic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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oceanic species; Water color affects its occurrence, at least in the northern Gulf of Mexico, where the fish show preference for blue water. Rarely gathers in schools and usually found as scattered single individuals
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Environment

pelagic-oceanic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); marine; depth range 0 - 200 m (Ref. 43)
  • Riede, K. 2004 Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p. (Ref. 51243)
  • Nakamura, I. 1985 FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(5):65p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43)
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Depth range based on 964 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 926 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 4700
  Temperature range (°C): 1.478 - 23.791
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.598 - 32.106
  Salinity (PPS): 34.788 - 36.454
  Oxygen (ml/l): 2.683 - 6.383
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.110 - 2.041
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.774 - 80.155

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 4700

Temperature range (°C): 1.478 - 23.791

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.598 - 32.106

Salinity (PPS): 34.788 - 36.454

Oxygen (ml/l): 2.683 - 6.383

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.110 - 2.041

Silicate (umol/l): 0.774 - 80.155
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Pelagic; marine. Oceanic species in blue water, usually as solitary individuals. Rarely schools.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder, 1953; Nakamura, I., 1985.
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Salinity: Marine, Marine Only

Inshore/Offshore: Offshore Only, Offshore

Water Column Position: Surface, Near Surface, Mid Water, Water column only

Habitat: Water column

FishBase Habitat: Pelagic
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Oceanodromous. Migrating within oceans typically between spawning and different feeding areas, as tunas do. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
  • Riede, K. 2004 Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p. (Ref. 51243)
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Trophic Strategy

Makaira mazara is an apex predator. Often, it approaches a school of fish or invertebrates at full speed, slashes through with its bill, then returns to devour the stunned or dead prey. It forages mostly in the near-surface waters, but the presence of benthic and demersal species in its stomach indicates it also feeds near the bottom. It consumes a large variety of prey species of different sizes and morphology from various trophic levels. But it also disproportionately targets a few species. This indicates that M. mazara is a specialized but opportunistic feeder, a foraging mode suited to the warm water oceans where food is unevenly distributed.

The numbers and types of species consumed vary, depending on the location and season. For instance, M. mazara feeds mainly on bullet mackerel (Auxis spp.) off the coast of Mexico, and on shipjack tuna (Kutsuwonus pelamis) in the central Pacific. Fish is the most frequent prey, and can constitute up to 86% of the total volume of food consumed by M. mazara in Hawaii. Scrombidae, especially tuna-like species, are consistently the most important prey items, among which shipjack tuna (K. pelamis) and frigate mackerel (Auxis thazard) are the most common. Tuna-like species are abundant, co-occur over the geographic range and epipelagic habitat of M. mazara and are of appropriate size as prey for an adult blue marlin.

Makaira mazara also feeds on a small amount of inshore juvenile fish, among which Balistidae and Acanthuridae are more common. Among the cephalopods that are consumed, squids from the family Ommastrephidae are commonly consumed, along with many other kinds of squids.

Animal Foods: fish; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans

Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Molluscivore )

  • Abitia-Cardenas, L., F. Galvan-Magaña, F. Gutierrez-Sanchez, J. Rodriguez-Romero, B. Aguilar-Palomino. 2000. Diet of blue marlin *Makaira mazara* off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Fisheries Research, 44: 95-100.
  • Baker, A. 1966. Food of marlins from New Zealand waters. Copeia, 4: 818-822.
  • Brock, R. 1984. A contribution to the trophic biology of the blue marlin (*Makaira nigricans* Lacepede, 1802) in Hawaii. Pacific Science, 38: 141-149.
  • Erdman, D. 1962. The sport fishery for blue marlin off Puerto Rico. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 91: 225-227.
  • Royce, W. 1957. Observations on the spearfishes of the Central Pacific. Fishery Bulletin, 57: 497-554.
  • Strasburg, D. 1970. A report on the billfishes of the Central Pacific ocean. Bulletin of Marine Science, Bulletin of Marine Science: 575-604.
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Oceanic species. Water color affects its occurrence, at least in the northern Gulf of Mexico, where the fish show preference for blue water. Rarely gathers in schools and usually found as scattered single individuals. Feeds mostly in near-surface waters but sometimes takes food in relatively deep water as is shown by the presence of deep sea fishes as Pseudoscopelus in the stomachs of specimens caught off Puerto Rico.
  • Nakamura, I. 1985 FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(5):65p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43)
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Mainly fishes but also octopods and squids.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder, 1953; Nakamura, I., 1985.
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Feeding

Feeding Group: Carnivore

Diet: octopus/squid/cuttlefish, bony fishes
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Associations

The blue marlin occupies a high trophic level, feeding on pelegic and benthic organisms in the ecosystem of the open ocean.

(Gardieff, 2003)

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Known Predators:

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Known prey organisms

Makaira nigricans preys on:
non-insect arthropods

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Diet

Feeds mainly on fishes but also preys on octopods and squids
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Life Cycle

In terms of absolute growth rate, M. mazara is one of the most rapidly growing teleosts during the early stages. The maximum growth rate of larvae can reach ~16mm/day.

  • Prince, E., D. Lee, J. Zweifel, E. Brothers. 1991. Estimating age and growth of young Atlantic blue marlin Makaira nigricans from otolith microstructure. Fishery Bulletin, 89: 441-459.
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Subripe ova are opaque, white to yellow, and 0.3 to 0.5 mm in diameter. Transparent spherical eggs flowing out of a ripe ovary measured 1 mm in diameter.
  • Nakamura, I. 1985 FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(5):65p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43)
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Life Expectancy

The maximum lifespan of females is estimated to be at least 27 years, while males are estimated to live a maximum of 18 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
20 to 30 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
20-30 years.

  • Hill, K., G. Caillict, R. Radtke. 1989. A comparative analysis of growth zones in four calcified structures of Pacific blue marlin, *Makaira nigricans*. Fishery Bulletin, 87: 829-843.
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Reproduction

The spawning season extends from July through October in the North Atlantic. In the South Atlantic, M. mazara exhibits fall spawning when the sea surface temperature is at 28C. In the Pacific Ocean, spawning occurs from December to January during the southern hemisphere’s summer. Females can spawn up to four times during the reproductive season, while males can spawn year round.

Sexual maturity is reached at 2-4 years of age. Females reach sexual maturity at 120kg or below. The smallest mature female recorded weighs 45kg. Fecundity of a female at 124 kg is estimated to be 7 million eggs, and 10.9 million eggs for a female of 147kg. Eggs are spherical, transparent, white to yellow in color, and around 1mm in diameter.

Breeding season: varies depending on geographic location

Average gestation period: 1 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2-4 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2-4 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (External ); oviparous

The eggs are bouyant in the water and drift until hatching with no parental care.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female)

  • Bartlett, M., R. Haedrich. 1968. Neuston nets and South Atlantic blue marlin (*Makaira nigricans*). Copeia, 1968: 469-474.
  • Erdman, D. 1968. Spawning cycles, sex ratio and weights of blue marlin off the coast of Puetro Rico and the Virgin Islands. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 97: 121-137.
  • Kume, S., J. Joseph. 1969. Size composition of billfish caught by the Japanese longline fishery in the Pacific Ocean east of 130W. Bulletin of Far Sea Fishery Research Laboratory, 2: 115-161.
  • Nakamura, I. 1985. FAO species catalogue. Vol.5. Billfishes of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. Rome: United Nations Development Programme Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • deSylva, D., P. Breder. 1997. Reproduction, gonad histology, and spawning cycles of north Atlantic billfishes (Istiophoridae). Bulletin of Marine Science, 60: 668-698.
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Unripe ova are opaque, white to yellow, and 0.3 to 0.5 mm in diameter. Ripe eggs are transparent, spherical and 1 mm in diameter.
  • Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder, 1953; Nakamura, I., 1985.
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Egg Type: Pelagic, Pelagic larva
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Makaira nigricans

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 56 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CTTCTAATTCGAGCTGAACTTAGCCAACCTGGCGCTTTACTAGGCGAT---GATCAAATTTATAACGTAATCGTTACAGCCCACGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTTATAGTAATGCCAATTATGATTGGAGGTTTCGGAAACTGACTGATTCCTCTAATG---ATCGGAGCCCCAGACATGGCCTTCCCTCGAATAAACAACATGAGCTTTTGACTGCTCCCTCCCTCATTCCTTCTTCTCCTCGCCTCCTCCGGAGTTGAAGCCGGGGCCGGCACAGGGTGAACCGTTTACCCGCCTCTAGCAGGTAACCTAGCCCACGCAGGAGCATCTGTTGACCTA---ACTATTTTTTCCCTCCATCTAGCTGGTATTTCCTCCATCTTAGGAGCTATCAACTTTATCACTACCATCATTAACATGAAACCAGCTGCCGTTTCAATGTACCAAATCCCCCTATTCGTCTGAGCAGTGCTGATTACAGCTGTCCTACTACTCCTCTCTCTGCCCGTCCTAGCTGCT---GGGATCACAATGCTTCTCACGGATCGAAATCTTAACACTGCCTTCTTCGACCCAGCAGGGGGTGGTGACCCAATCCTTTATCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGACACCCAGAGGTTTATATTCTTATTCTACCAGGTTTCGGAATGATCTCCCATATTGTCGCCTATTATTCTGGTAAAAAA---GAACCTTTCGGCTATATGGGTATGGTTTGAGCTATGATGGCTATTGGCCTTCTAGGCTTCATTGTCTGAGCCCACCACATGTTTACAGTCGGAATGGACGTTGACACACGTGCCTACTTCACATCTGCTACAATGATCATTGCCATCCCAACCGGCGTTAAAGTCTTTAGCTGACTT---GCAACCCTTCACGGAGGC---TCTATCAAATGAGAAACCCCACTTCTATGAGCCCTTGGCTTTATCTTCCTATTTACAGTTGGAGGACTAACCGGGATCGTGCTTGCCAACTCCTCACTAGACATTGTCCTTCACGATACATATTATGTAGTA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Makaira nigricans

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 57
Specimens with Barcodes: 67
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

The blue marlin stock in the Atlantic has probably been overfished for the last 10-15 years. Its maximum sustained yield is estimated to be 2000 metric tons, so the stock is being depleted faster that it can replenish itself at landings of 3064 metric tons in 2000. The predominant blue marlin landings occur as bycatch in offshore longline fisheries that target tropical and temperate tunas by fishing shallow, and to a lesser degree in offshore longline fisheries and drift nets targeting swordfish and bigeye tuna by fishing deep.

Due to their migratory nature, wide geographic range, and multinational fishing pressure, it is difficult to manage and set up regulations to protect the blue marlin stock.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is a major international organization with 32 contracting countries aiming to conserve tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. Makaira mazara is one of the 30 species of direct concern to ICCAT. The Commission has recommended that the blue marlin landings of pelagic longlines and purse seine vessels be reduced to at most 50% of the 1996 or 1999 level, whichever is greater. In the US, the NMFS has imposed a size limit of 251cm LJFL on the recreational blue marlin catch, and has prohibited commercial fishermen from fishing, taking, or retaining blue marlin.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2bd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2011

Assessor/s
Collette, B., Acero, A., Amorim, A.F., Boustany, A., Canales Ramirez, C., Cardenas, G., Carpenter, K.E., de Oliveira Leite Jr., N., Di Natale, A., Die, D., Fox, W., Fredou, F.L., Graves, J., Guzman-Mora, A., Viera Hazin, F.H., Hinton, M., Juan Jorda, M., Minte Vera, C., Miyabe, N., Montano Cruz, R., Nelson, R., Oxenford, H., Restrepo, V., Salas, E., Schaefer, K., Schratwieser, J., Serra, R., Sun, C., Teixeira Lessa, R.P., Pires Ferreira Travassos, P.E., Uozumi, Y. & Yanez, E.

Reviewer/s
Russell, B., Elfes, C. & Polidoro, B.

Contributor/s

Justification
Using a generation length of between 4.5 and 6 years, we estimated a decline in overall stock abundance of 31–38% over 14 years and 18 years, respectively. Global declines were calculated as a weighted average of the declines for each stock using maximum historical catch as a proxy for the stock's contribution to the global population. Based on the available data, this species is listed as Vulnerable under criterion A2. This species is not considered to be well managed in any part of its range. It is important to note that the Pacific stock comprises over half of the global population for this species, and that declines in the Pacific were estimated using catch data as no recent standardized indices were available. It is likely that declines based on these data are conservative. Fishing effort in the Pacific and Indian Oceans is increasing as a result of longline fisheries operating at deeper depths and in the Atlantic due to expansion of artisanal fleets. There is urgent need for an updated stock assessment for the Pacific Ocean and a reassessment of this species may be warranted when newer information becomes available. Data reporting from the Indian Ocean is also poor. We recommend that appropriate fishery statistics be compiled and analysed to accurately assess the condition of this species.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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IUCN Red List: Not evaluated / Listed

CITES: Not listed
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Population

Population
Atlantic Ocean
The most recent stock assessment for Blue Marlin (ICCAT 2007) used a Bayesian Surplus Production model to estimate biomass from 1990 through 2006. The remaining data series (1956–1989) are based on biomass estimates from the previous stock assessment (ICCAT 2002). Population declines were examined using a generation length estimated between 4.5 and 6 years. Over a three generation length period of 14 years, the decline was 60% and over a three generation length period of 18 years, the decline was 64%. These declines were calculated using a linear regression over each of the time periods examined. Population reduction for Atlantic blue marlin was therefore estimated to be between 60% and 64%. For all of the models for which the stock productivity was constrained to be near the productivity estimated by the last full assessment, the current biomass was estimated to be at or below biomass at maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) and current fishing mortality rates were above FMSY. The stock is therefore not considered to be well-managed.

Pacific Ocean
The best knowledge currently available indicates that Blue Marlin constitutes a single world-wide species (Buonaccorsi et al. 1999, 2001, Collette et al. 2006), and that there is a single stock of Blue Marlin in the Pacific Ocean (Hinton 2001). No recent estimates of biomass or catch per unit effort (CPUE) were available. Biomass estimates from the last stock assessment for Pacific Blue Marlin (Kleiber et al. 2003) were available only until 1997. We therefore used estimated catch data from the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) (Hinton, unpublished data 2011), which were the only available recent data. We assume that effort has remained stable or has increased over the time period examined. Based on catch data and a generation length of 4.5–6 years, we estimated declines of 5% over 14 years (1996–2009) and 19% over 18 years (1992–2009) using linear regression. We consider that these estimates of decline (based on catches) are likely conservative. This stock is not considered to be well-managed and there is urgent need for a newer stock assessment to evaluate population trends.

Indian Ocean
Nominal yearly CPUE of Japanese longliners in Northwest Australia has declined 58.9% over a 14 year period (1993–2007) and 70.6% over a 18 year period (1989–2007; Figure 40, IOTC 2009). The CPUE decline for Japanese longliners in the Seychelles was 79.5% over 14 years and 56.9% over 18 years (Figure 40, IOTC 2009). For each time period considered, an average of the declines in Northwest Australia and the Seychelles was used to characterize the population in the Indian Ocean. The decline in the Indian Ocean ranged from 63–69% depending on the time period considered. It is important to note that these data are limited and catch data from other industrial fisheries such as longliners of Indonesia and Philippines are not available. The stock is not considered to be well managed and more information is needed to understand population declines for blue marlin in the Indian Ocean.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
In the Pacific, Blue Marlin are an incidental catch of longline fisheries, bycatch in swordfish fisheries, and an important resource for big game recreational fishing. More than 73% of reported landings are incidental to large offshore longline fisheries, and other major fisheries are the directed recreational fisheries of the USA and other countries (Restrepo et al. 2003). Protections efforts for blue marlin have continued to decrease in recent years, as deeper longline gear is introduced (Uozumi 1999).

In the Atlantic new fleets have harvested large catches of Blue Marlin, including artisanal fish aggregating devices (FAD) fisheries in the eastern Caribbean islands and a new artisanal fleet of small longliners operating off Brazil between 18°S and 30°S. This species is primarily taken as bycatch by longline fisheries, but also by purse seines, by some artisanal gears which are the only fisheries targeting marlins and also by various sport fisheries located on both sides of the Atlantic. The increasing use of anchored FADs by various artisanal and sport fisheries is causing greater vulnerability of these stocks (STECF 2009). For example, over the last fifteen years, Antillean artisanal fleets have increased the use of Moored Fish Aggregating Devices (MFADs) to capture pelagic fish. Catches of Blue Marlin caught around MFADs are known to be significant but reports on these catches made to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) are very incomplete (ICCAT 2006).
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Vulnerable (VU) (A2bd)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This is a highly migratory species, listed under Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (FAO Fisheries Department 1994).

In some areas, long-lining is restricted to protect fish stocks for sport fishing. Size limitations, encouragement of catch-and-release sport fishing, and recommendations for using circle hooks instead of J-hooks are measures designed to increase survival in catch-and-release sport fishing (Pine et al. 2008, Serafy et al. 2009). Marlin species are a special case because bycatch in the longline fisheries concentrating primarily on tunas causes the majority of fishery mortality (>90%) for marlin (Kitchell et al. 2004). In the Pacific, marlin are most frequently captured on the shallow hooks of a longline set (those close to the floats), and removing less than 15% of the hook sets adjacent to floats would decrease marlin catch by as much as 50% (Kitchell et al. 2004).

For Blue Marlin in the Atlantic, the ICCAT Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (ICCAT–SCRS) in 2008 asked the Commission, at a minimum, to continue the management measures already in place because marlins have not yet recovered. The Commission should take steps to assure that the reliability of the recent fishery information improves in order to provide a basis for verifying possible future rebuilding of the stocks. Improvements are needed in the monitoring of the fate and number of dead and live releases, with verification from scientific observer programs; verification of current and historical landings from some artisanal and industrial fleets; and complete and updated relative abundance indices from CPUE data for the major fleets. Should the Commission wish to increase the likelihood of success of the current management measures of the marlin rebuilding plan, further reduction in mortality would be needed, including: implementing plans to improve compliance of current regulations; encouraging the use of alternative gear configurations, including certain types of circle hooks, hook/bait combinations etc., in fisheries where its use has been shown to be beneficial; and broader application of time/area catch restrictions.

Given the recent importance of the catch from artisanal fisheries, and to increase the likelihood of recovery of marlin stocks, the Commission should consider regulations that control or reduce the fishing mortality generated by these fisheries. The Commission should encourage continued research on development of methods to incorporate this information into stock assessments in order to provide a basis for increasing the certainty with which management advice can be provided.

The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) stresses the need for correct identification and reporting of billfish species in all fisheries. Furthermore, STECF notes that the 2007 ICCAT–SCRS report indicated the potential for the stocks of blue marlin and white marlin to recover to the BMSY level. However, recent increases in catches of Blue Marlin by artisanal fisheries on both sides of the Atlantic may compromise the effectiveness of the ICCAT plan (STECF 2009).

Recent analyses suggest that the recovery of blue marlin stock might proceed faster than would have been estimated at the 2000 assessment, provided catches remain at the level estimated for 2004. Some signs of stabilization in the abundance trend are apparent in the most recent catch per unit of effort data of Blue Marlin (2000–2004) Recommendations [Rec. 00-13], [Rec. 01-10] and finally [Rec. 02-13] placed additional catch restrictions for Blue Marlin and White Marlin. The first established that the annual amount of Blue Marlin that can be harvested by pelagic longline and purse seine vessels and retained for landing must be no more than 33% for White Marlin and 50% for Blue Marlin of the 1996 or 1999 landing levels, whichever is greater. That recommendation established that all Blue Marlin and White Marlin brought to pelagic longline and purse seine vessels alive shall be released in a manner that maximizes their survival. The provision of this paragraph does not apply to marlins that are dead when brought along the side of the vessel and that are not sold or entered into commerce. Catches of both species have declined since 1996–99, the period selected as the reference period by the recommendations. Since 2002, the year of implementation of the last of these two recommendations, the catch of Blue Marlin has been below the 50% value recommended by the Commission. This analysis represents only longline caught marlin even though the recommendations referred to the combined catch of pelagic longline and purse seine because the catch estimates of billfish by-catch from purse seine vessels are more uncertain than those from longline. More countries have started reporting data on live releases in 2006. Additionally, more information has come about, for some fleets, on the potential for using gear modifications to reduce the bycatch and increase the survival of marlins (ICCAT 2007).

Catches of Blue Marlin in the Indian Ocean are very poorly reported and there is need of better data to evaluate the condition of the Indian Ocean stock.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Makaira mazara is usually caught as bycatch in tuna longline fisheries but has some commercial value throughout the world. In 2000, blue marlin landings totaled 25717 metric tons in the Pacific and 3064 metric tons in the Atlantic. The countries with the largest landings are Taiwan, China (13618 mt) and Japan (7899 mt). Other countries with blue marlin captures include Ghana, Brazil, Cote divoire, and South Korea. Blue marlin flesh is of excellent quality. It is especially valuable in Japan, where flesh with high fat content is used raw for sashimi.

Due to its rarity, large size, legendary speed, and powerful aerobics on rod and reel, M. mazara is a popular and prestigious catch for recreational fishermen. In fact, an entire multi-million dollar industry has evolved around this “rare event” species. Sport fisheries are especially developed in the U.S., Venezuela, Bahamas, Brazil, the Caribbean, and along the coast of West Africa.

Positive Impacts: food ; ecotourism

  • FAO, 2002. FAO yearbook. Fishery Statistics. Vol. 90/1.. Rome: Agriculture and Food Organization of the United Nations.
  • ICCAT, October 2002. "ICCAT Executive Summaries of Species Status Reports (Oct 2002)" (On-line). Accessed November 7, 2002 at http://www.iccat.es/Documents/BUM.pdf.
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Importance

fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 1992 FAO yearbook 1990. Fishery statistics. Catches and landings. FAO Fish. Ser. (38). FAO Stat. Ser. 70:(105):647 p. (Ref. 4931)
  • International Game Fish Association 1991 World record game fishes. International Game Fish Association, Florida, USA. (Ref. 4699)
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Wikipedia

Atlantic blue marlin

The Atlantic blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) is a species of marlin endemic to the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic blue marlin (hereafter, blue marlin) feeds on a wide variety of organisms near the surface. It uses its bill to stun, injure, or kill while knifing through a school of fish or other prey, then returns to eat the injured or stunned fish. Marlin is a popular game fish. The relatively high fat content of its meat makes it commercially valuable in certain markets.

Blue marlin are distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. A bluewater fish that spends the majority of its life in the open sea far from land,[2] the blue marlin preys on a wide variety of marine organisms, mostly near the surface, often using its bill to stun or injure prey.

Females can grow up to four times the weight of males. The maximum published weight is 818 kg (1,803 lb) and length 5 m (16.4 ft).[3]

Adult blue marlin have few predators apart from man. They are sought after as a highly prized game fish by anglers and are taken by commercial fishermen, both as a directed catch and as bycatch in major industrial tuna fisheries. Blue marlin are currently considered a threatened species by the IUCN due to overfishing.[1]

Some other historic English names for the blue marlin are Cuban black marlin, ocean gar, and ocean guard.[4]

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

The blue marlin is placed in the genus Makaira. This name is derived from the Greek word machaira, meaning "a short sword or bent dagger", and the Latin machaera, "sword".[5][6] The specific epithet nigricans is Latin for "becoming black".[7] The blue marlin is part of the billfish family Istiophoridae and is in the perch-like order Perciformes. In addition, it is in the suborder Xiphioidei and is a member of the subclass Neopterygii, which means "new wings". It is also in the class of Actinopterygii, which includes ray-finned fishes and spiny-rayed fishes, and the superclass Osteichthyes, which includes all of the bony fishes.[8][9]

The classification of the Atlantic blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) and the Indo-Pacific blue marlin (Makaira mazara) as separate species is under debate. Genetic data suggest, although the two groups are isolated from each other, they are both the same species, with the only genetic exchange occurring when Indo-Pacific blue marlin migrate to and contribute genes to the Atlantic population.[10] A separate study by V. P. Buonaccorsi, J. R. Mcdowell, and Graves indicated that both Indo-Pacific and Atlantic show "striking phylogeographic partitioning" of mitochondrial and microsatellite loci.[11]

Synonyms[edit]

Synonyms of Makaira nigricans are:[3]

Physical description[edit]

Intact fish skeleton at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The biggest females are more than four times as heavy as the biggest males, which rarely exceed 160 kg (350 lb) in weight.[12] The longest females can reach a length of 5 m (16 ft) with the bill, from eye to tip, constituting about 20% of the total body length.

Body mass in the largest female specimens has been reported from 540 to 820 kg (1,190 to 1,810 lb), depending on the source (few large specimens are scientifically verified).[13] The largest blue marlin caught by IGFA angling rules is from Vitoria, Brazil, which weighed 1,402 lb (636 kg).[14]

Both sexes have 24 vertebrae, of which 11 are precaudal and 13 are caudal.[15]

The marlin has two dorsal fins and two anal fins. The fins are supported by bony spines known as rays. Its first dorsal fin has 39 to 43 rays from front to back.[15] Its second dorsal fin has six or seven rays.[15] Its first anal fin, which is similar in shape and size to the second dorsal fin, has 13 to 16 rays,[15] and the second anal fin has six or seven rays.[15] The pectoral fins, which have 19 to 22 rays,[15] are long and narrow and can be drawn in to the sides of the body. The pelvic fins are shorter than the pectorals, have a poorly developed membrane, and are depressible into ventral grooves. Its first anal fin, along with its pectoral and caudal fins, can be folded into grooves. This streamlines the fish and thereby reduces drag.

Blue marlin, like other billfish, can rapidly change color, an effect created by pigment-containing iridophores and light-reflecting skin cells.[16]

Most often, however, the body is blue-black on top with a silvery white underside. It has about 15 rows of pale, cobalt-colored stripes, each of which has round dots and/or thin bars, located on both sides of the fish.[15] The first dorsal fin membrane is dark blue or almost black and has no dots or marks. Other fins are normally brownish-black, sometimes with a hint of dark blue. The bases of the first and second anal fins have a hint of silvery white.

The body is covered with thick, bony, elongated scales that have one, two, or three posterior points, with one being the most common form.[15]

The bill is long and stout. Both the jaws and the palatines (the roof of the mouth) are covered with small, file-like teeth. The lateral line system is a group of neuromasts rooted in lateral line canals that can sense weak water motions and large changes in pressure.[17] It has the appearance of a net.[18] It is obvious in immature specimens but unclear in adults, becoming progressively embedded in the skin.[15] The anus is just in front of the origin of the first anal fin.

Range and migration[edit]

Blue marlin are found year-round in tropical oceanic waters of the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific. The range expands into temperate waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres during the warmer months and contracts towards the Equator during colder months.[19] Warm currents such as the Gulf Stream in the western Atlantic and the Agulhas Current in the western Indian Ocean have a major influence on their seasonal distribution.

In the Atlantic, the blue marlin's latitudinal range extends from about 45°N to about 35°S. It is less abundant in the eastern Atlantic, where it mostly occurs off Africa between the latitudes of 25°N and 25°S. The largest numbers are usually found in waters warmer than 24°C (75°F), but blue marlin have been found at surface water temperatures as high as 30.5°C (86.9°F) and as low as 21.7°C (71.1°F).[20]

Tagging studies, using conventional "spaghetti" tags, and more recently pop-up satellite tags, have given researchers a glimpse into blue marlin migration patterns and habits. Recaptures of tagged fish have shown multiple movements between the Caribbean Islands and Venezuela and the Bahamas, as well as between the Caribbean Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and West Africa, as well interocean travel. Most notably, a blue marlin tagged off the coast of Delaware was recovered near the island of Mauritius off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean – a voyage of 9,254 miles.[21] Blue marlin tagged in the Pacific have also been recovered in the Indian Ocean. Several fish have been recaptured in the same general area where they were tagged, implying reverse migration after/over several years, but the data are insufficient to accurately determine seasonality.[22]

Predators and parasites[edit]

Once blue marlin reach maturity, they have few predators, with the most important probably being large pelagic sharks such as the shortfin mako and great white shark.[23] Other potential predators include toothed whales such as the false killer whale and killer whale.

Blue marlin have many parasites. They include parasites from these groups: Digenea (flukes), Didymozoidea (tissue flukes), Monogenea (gillworms), Cestoda (tapeworms), Nematoda (roundworms), Acanthocephala (spiny-headed worms), copepods, barnacles, and cookiecutter sharks.

Remoras are commonly found attached to blue marlin, often inside the opercula.

Lifecycle[edit]

Growth and maturity

Atlantic blue marlin reach sexual maturity at the age of two to four years. Males reach sexual maturity at a weight of 35–44 kg (77–97 lb) and females at 47–61 kg (104–134 lb).[24] Blue marlin breed in late summer and fall. Females may spawn as many as four times in one season. They often release over seven million eggs at once, each about 1 mm (0.039 in) in diameter. Few reach sexual maturity. The planktonic young drift freely in the ocean's pelagic zone. Larvae inhabit the west central Atlantic off Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Jamaica, Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, and also the southwest Atlantic off Brazil.[12] The larvae may grow as much as 16 mm (0.63 in) in a day.[12] On their sides and dorsal surfaces they are blue-black in color, while ventrally they are white. Both the caudal fin and the caudal peduncle (the narrow part of the fish's body to which the caudal or tail fin is attached) are clear. Two iridescent blue patches occur on the head, and some individuals have darker spots on their backs. In adolescents, the first dorsal fin is large and concave, gradually reducing in proportion to body size with continued growth.[4] Males may live for 18 years, and females up to 27.

Diet and feeding

The larvae feed upon a variety of zooplankton along with drifting fish eggs and other larvae. They progress to feeding on a wide range of fishes, particularly scombrids, such as mackerel and tuna, squid, and especially near oceanic islands and coral reefs, on juvenile inshore fish. Studies of stomach contents in both the Atlantic and Pacific have found that smaller schooling scombrids such as frigate mackerel, bullet tuna, and skipjack tuna make up a substantial proportion of their diet. Squid and deep-sea fishes such as pomfret and snake mackerel are also important prey items in certain areas. Blue marlin have been recorded to take prey as large as white marlin, as well as yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the 100-lb range. Conversely, they are also capable of feeding on small but numerous prey such as filefish and snipefish.

Scientists and fishermen have long debated the extent to which blue marlin and other billfish use their elongated upper jaw in feeding. A 2007 Japanese study of stomach contents of fish captured in a commercial trolling fishery found that 130 undigested prey items obtained from 227 blue marlin had spearing, slashing, and other injuries that were judged to have been inflicted by the bill.[25]

Economic importance[edit]

Approximately triangular piece of pink-to-red fish
An 8-oz (230-g) marlin filet

Commercial fishery[edit]

Marlin has commercial value throughout the world, with landings totalling 3,064 metric tons in 2000.[12] It is particularly valued in Japan for sashimi.[12] In Hawaii, where the fish is known as a'u,[26] blue marlin meat is sometimes smoked and sold by roadside vendors.

Blue marlin are often caught as bycatch in tuna longline fisheries.

Recreational fishery[edit]

Sport fishermen first encountered blue marlin in the Bahamas in the 1920s and early 1930s, when pioneering big-game fishermen such as Van Campen Heilner and Kip Farrington began exploring the waters offshore of Bimini and Cat Cay. In the Pacific, blue marlin (then known as silver marlin or often misidentified as the related black marlin) were caught by author/angler Zane Grey in Tahiti in the 1930s. Since then, blue marlin have been renowned as one of the world's greatest game fishes. The sportfishing pursuit of marlin and other billfish has developed into a multimillion dollar industry that includes hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs for boat operators, boat builders, marinas, dealerships, and fishing tackle manufacturers and dealers.

The most established sport fisheries for blue marlin are found along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast of the United States, Bermuda, the Bahamas. and several other Caribbean islands (notably St Thomas and Puerto Rico). Recreational fishing for blue marlin also takes place in Brazil, Venezuela, and the Atlantic coast of Mexico, particularly the Yucatan peninsula. In the eastern Atlantic, blue marlin sport fisheries exist from the Algarve coast of Portugal in the north to Angola in the south and include the islands of the Azores, Canaries, Cape Verde, Madeira, and Ascension Island.

The International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record for blue marlin currently stands at 1,402 lb 2 oz (636 kg).[4] This fish was captured in Vitoria, Brazil.

Conservation[edit]

The blue marlin is under intense pressure from longline fishing. In the Caribbean region alone, Japanese and Cuban fishermen annually take over a thousand tons. All vessels within 200 mi (320 km) of the U.S. coastline are required to release any billfish caught. However, the survival rate of released fish is low because of damage during capture.[4]

Makaira nigricansis is listed as a threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.[1] In 2010, Greenpeace International added the blue marlin to its seafood red list. [27]

Sport fishermen have been at the forefront of efforts to conserve blue marlin populations. The initial efforts to develop electronic tags for tracking highly migratory fish were carried out on marlin in Hawaii, in collaboration with anglers in the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.[21]

In popular culture[edit]

Both Zane Grey and Ernest Hemingway, who fished for blue marlin off the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and most famously in Cuba, wrote extensively about their pursuit.

In Ernest Hemingway's novella The Old Man and the Sea, a fisherman named Santiago battles a blue marlin for three days off the coast of Cuba.[2][28]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Collette, B., Acero, A., Amorim, A.F., Boustany, A., Canales Ramirez, C., Cardenas, G., Carpenter, K.E., de Oliveira Leite Jr., N., Di Natale, A., Die, D., Fox, W., Fredou, F.L., Graves, J., Guzman-Mora, A., Viera Hazin, F.H., Hinton, M., Juan Jorda, M., Minte Vera, C., Miyabe, N., Montano Cruz, R., Nelson, R., Oxenford, H., Restrepo, V., Salas, E., Schaefer, K., Schratwieser, J., Serra, R., Sun, C., Teixeira Lessa, R.P., Pires Ferreira Travassos, P.E., Uozumi, Y. & Yanez, E. (2011). "Makaira nigricans". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Blue Marlin, National Geographic, retrieved 2008-11-11 .
  3. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). "Makaira nigricans" in FishBase. August 2013 version.
  4. ^ a b c d Atlantic Blue Marlin, Florida Museum of Natural History, archived from the original on 26 January 2009, retrieved 2009-01-29 
  5. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000), CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names, CRC, ISBN 978-0-8493-2677-6, retrieved 2009-01-29 
  6. ^ Old High German Etymological Database (Koebler), Koebler, retrieved 2009-02-15 
  7. ^ Thacker, Jason R.; Henkel, Terry W (1 May 2004), "New Species of Clavulina from Guyana", Mycologia (Mycologia) 96 (3): 650–657, doi:10.2307/3762182, JSTOR 3762182, PMID 21148885, retrieved 2009-02-07 
  8. ^ Makaira nigricans Atlantic blue marlin, FishBase, retrieved 2008-11-15 
  9. ^ Scientific Name: Makaira nigricans Lacepède, 1802, ITIS, retrieved 2009-01-25 
  10. ^ J. E. Graves (1998), "Molecular Insights Into the Population Structures of Cosmopolitan Marine Fishes", Journal of Heredity 89 (5): 427–437, doi:10.1093/jhered/89.5.427 , see page 429.
  11. ^ V. P. Buonaccorsi, J. R. Mcdowell & J. E. Graves (2001), "Reconciling patterns of inter-ocean molecular variance from four classes of molecular markers in blue marlin (Makaira nigricans)", Molecular Ecology 10 (5): 1179–1196, doi:10.1046/j.1365-294X.2001.01270.x, PMID 11380876 .
  12. ^ a b c d e Makaira nigricans, Animal diversity web, retrieved 2008-10-13 .
  13. ^ "Blue Marlins, Makaira nigricans at". Marinebio.org. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  14. ^ "FLMNH Ichthyology Department: Blue Marlin". Flmnh.ufl.edu. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vol. 5. Billfishes of the World (PDF), FAO Species Identification and Data Programme, retrieved 2008-11-11 .
  16. ^ A. Fritsches, Julian C. Partridge,, Kerstin (2000), "Colour vision in billfish", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (The Royal Society) 355 (1401): 1253–6, doi:10.1098/rstb.2000.0678, PMC 1692849, PMID 11079409, retrieved 2008-01-02 
  17. ^ The lateral line system of fish: structure, function and behavioral relevance, Jacobs University, archived from the original on 27 March 2008, retrieved 2009-02-11 
  18. ^ Makaira nigricans Blue Marlin, MarineBio, retrieved 2009-01-25 
  19. ^ Luckhurst, Brian E.; Prince, Eric D.; Llopiz, Joel K.; Snodgrass, Derke; Brothers, Edward B. (2006), "Evidence Of Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans) spawning in Bermuda waters and elevated mercury levels in large specimens" (PDF), Bulletin of Marine Science (USA: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami) 79 (3): 691–704, retrieved 11 February 2011 
  20. ^ Proceedings of the International Billfish Symposium (PDF), NOAA Department of Commerce, retrieved 2008-11-15 
  21. ^ a b http://www.tunaresearch.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111&Itemid=232
  22. ^ Blue Marlin, Makaira nigricans, Movements in the Western North Atlantic Ocean: Results of a Cooperative Game Fish Tagging Program, 1954–88 (PDF), NMFS CooperativeGameFish Tagging Program, retrieved 2008-11-17 
  23. ^ Makaira nigricans (Atlantic Blue Marlin), Zipcode Zoo, retrieved 2008-11-18 
  24. ^ Prelimary Results on Reproductive Biology of Blue Marlin, Makaira Nigricans (LACÉPÈDE, 1803) in the Tropical Western Atlantic Ocean, ICCAT, archived from the original on 26 January 2009, retrieved 2009-01-20 
  25. ^ Shimose, T.; Yokawa, K.; Saito, H.; Tachihara, K. (2007). "Evidence for use of the bill by blue marlin, Makaira nigricans, during feeding". Ichthyological Research 54 (4): 420–422. doi:10.1007/s10228-007-0419-x.  edit
  26. ^ Fooduniversity.com website: Pacific Blue Marlin
  27. ^ Greenpeace International Seafood Red list
  28. ^ Valenti, Patricia Dunlavy (2002), Understanding The Old Man and the Sea, The Greenwood Press, ISBN 978-0-313-31631-9, retrieved 2008-11-17 

References[edit]

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