Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blue Marlin

Blue marlins are incredibly large, iconic fish. In fact, they are one of the largest fish species in the entire world. Interestingly, the females are larger than the males and can reach lengths of 14ft and weight close to 2,000lbs. Males are substantially smaller and rarely weigh more than 300lbs. This means that all of those gigantic trophy fish are in fact female.

(Image Source)
There is some debate on the taxonomic status of the Blue Marlin. Some consider to be the Atlantic fish to be a very separate species from those in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Others consider them to be all one species within the genus Makaira. For the sake of this entry we are going to go with the earlier view: that of different species. Makaira nigricans is found in tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where they prefer to live near the warmer surface waters. They are migratory, solitary hunters, and will move to areas where the food supply is better. They eat a variety of pelagic fishes, and will also dive down deeper for squid and other prey. The characteristc beak of the Marlin is actually and extension of their upper jaw, and it is used to slash at schools of fish and stun victims.

Spawning occurs in tropical waters, and females may lay several million eggs at a time. They will hatch after about a week but very few of the larvae will live to reach sexual maturity. Blue Marlin females can live as long as 27 years, while the lifespan for males is around 18.

Blue Marlins are not yet a threatened species, but many fear that the amount of fishing that they are subjected to will damage the population in the future.

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