Billfish are some of the most understudied fish on the planet, but they’re certainly one of the most sought-after game fish. After all, who wouldn’t want to catch a big marlin or sailfish, just like Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea?
The lack of true scientific data surrounding billfish is part of what led Costa (the sunglasses company) to launch what they’ve dubbed their Marlin Fly Project. The Marlin Fly Project is a billfish research mission that uses fly tackle to land striped marlin. Once the fish are landed, they’re fitted with a satellite tag, then released back to the ocean. Costa worked with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) and The Billfish Foundation (TBF) to carry out this research project.
It took place in Magdalena Bay in Southwestern Baja, Mexico, which is home to a significant striped marlin migration for a few months out of the year. Over 24 hours of fly fishing, Costa’s team of anglers landed 15 striped marlin, all on the fly, and fitted them with satellite tags.
“Through this collaboration, Costa’s Marlin Fly Project is set to collect unparalleled data about Striped Marlin that will help play a pivotal role in supporting conservation and enhancing fisheries management efforts,” said Peter Chaibongsai, Director of Conservation Programs at The Billfish Foundation. “We’re honored to be a part of such a unique project that puts community at the forefront. The strong bond forged with the locals not only enables them, but also fosters a sense of advocacy. This ensures that the project’s impact extends far beyond scientific research – it creates a network of passionate advocates dedicated to conserving this resource for years to come.”
The satellite tags will mainly track post release survivability, migration patterns, swimming depth, and water temperature, to better help scientists understand how striped marlin move throughout their habitat, and to get more data on the challenges they’re currently facing.
In addition to fishing for the marlin and deploying these tags, Costa produced a film to highlight their efforts. The film should help engage a broader swath of the conservation community, and you can watch it below.