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Great Marlin Race May Come to Galapagos
Last March, Californian Bob Kurz, a trustee with the International Game Fish Association, and his IGFA rep wife Sally took an important step to advance billfish science around the world: they implanted a striped marlin with a pop-off satellite tag while fishing around Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.
The tag, scheduled to detach from the fish’s dorsal fin after 240 days, was the first to be implanted in a billfish in the remote Pacific islands as part of the IGFA’s Great Marlin Race. Since the IGFA took over the international tournament-within-a-tournament in 2011, some 350 satellite tags have been deployed in billfish in 22 countries. The tags record fish tracks in real time, including depth, temperature and other data, then relays them to a satellite which beams the information to researchers at California’s Stanford University. Anglers buy the $4,500 tags and receive special recognition for the distances their tagged fish travel.
Sally Kurz caught the striper, estimated at 200 pounds, while trolling lures on the sport fishing boat Vertigo from the Galapagos Planet Hotel, a Guy Harvey Outpost Lodge on San Cristobal Island. The couple also caught and released numerous yellowfin tuna. They were accompanied by a representative of the Galapagos National Park.
“They liked what we were doing,” Bob Kurz said of park officials. “They are very interested in learning more about the billfish that frequent the Galapagos.”
Kurz was so encouraged by the park’s receptiveness that he is putting together a proposal to hold the first formal Great Marlin Race Tournament in the Galapagos in January 2019. He says that’s prime time for catching stripers as well as blue and black marlin around the islands.
“Wherever you have a species, you try to deploy tags in as many different places as you can,” Kurz said.
For example, Kurz said, tagging data helps solve mysteries such as why the average striper caught in California weighs about 140 pounds while fish over 300 pounds are common in New Zealand– “whether they are separate and distinct populations,” he said.
The tagging data also helps scientists inform fisheries managers who are hammering out policies to conserve billfish, such as time-and-area closures, gear restrictions and other measures.
“It’s a citizen science program,” Kurz said. “Very exciting for people who enjoy fishing for marlin.”
You don’t have to wait for the next Great Marlin Race to fish for billfish in Galapagos. Book your lodging and fishing with Galapagos Planet, a Guy Harvey Outpost Expedition Lodge at www.guyharveyoutpost.com or call 1-800-513-5257.
To learn more about the Great Marlin Race, visit www.igfa.org.