AND THE WINNER IS……The Newport Game Fish Club/Kona Game Fishing Club-Taiyo!
The IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR), presented by Costa Sunglasses, is a partnership between the IGFA and Dr. Barbara Block’s lab at Stanford University. The 2020 IGMR officially concludes on September 30, 2020. In total, over the past year, 10 tags reported a total of 11,448 miles of linear distance and logged 1,420 days of billfish migration and diving behavior.
One tag, however, was responsible for 19% of the total linear distance. On August 11, 2019, a tag co-sponsored by The Newport Game Fish Club and Kona Game Fishing Club-Taiyo was deployed on an estimated 140-pound blue marlin while fishing on the Marlin Magic II, captained by Capt. Marlin Parker, out of Kona, Hawaii. Two hundred and forty-four days later on April 11, 2020, the tag surfaced and began reporting data. This blue marlin traveled an impressive linear distance of 2,181 nautical miles (nm) and had a total estimated track of 10,751 nm. The marlin took an impressive route as it traveled to the east while zigzagging north and south, crossing the equator five times before popping up in the southern hemisphere.
Coming in at second place is a tag sponsored by Frank Rodriguez and deployed at the 2019 Bermuda Triple Crown on a 200-pound blue marlin. The marlin was caught alongside Fa-La-Me with Captain Rob Moore and angler Melissa Vickers and traveled a total linear distance of 2,161 nm, just 20 nm shy of the first place tag. It is estimated that this fish traveled a total distance of 6,160 nm!
An Interesting Result
Upon first glance, the 2020 IGMR winner appeared to be a 110lb blue marlin tag sponsored by Kona Game Fishing Club-Taiyo that popped up 2,245nm from the deployment location. After analyzing the data, it became apparent this fish was caught by a longliner and the tag was in the vessel unable to transmit until the vessel reached port in Tahiti. Due to the tags inability to transmit at the point of capture, a valid ‘popup’ location was not received through satellite. Because of this, we were unfortunately unable to calculate a point-to-point distance for this tag and were forced to disqualify the track from placing in the event. Luckily, we were able to recover the tag and retrieve the full data set from the deployment which provides a significantly higher resolution of depth and temperature data for analysis. This tag’s capture shows how vulnerable these animals are to being caught by longline vessels in the Pacific.
Sneak Peak at 2021
The IGMR is looking forward to the future by incorporating new satellite tags from Lotek Wireless and Wildlife Computers in 2020-2021 and expects to deploy over 30 tags on billfish species. New race locations are currently being implemented in Dampier W. Australia, the Whitsunday Islands Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, and Tobago. The IGMR will also continue tagging at our most successful locations in Kona, Hawaii at the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, Bermuda at the Triple Crown, Bahamas at the Custom Shootout, and California at the Master Angler Billfish Tournament.
We look forward to generating additional and new data on billfish behavior and habitat utilization in our effort to better conserve and manage sailfish, marlin, and spearfish across the world.