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Atlantic Blue Marlin Leaping Out Of The Water.PC: Hannes Ribbner

Atlantic Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans)

Atlantic blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) is a fish with an unmistakable bill and a high, pointed dorsal fin. They are an extremely quick species and found throughout the Atlantic Ocean. It isn’t uncommon for them to travel major distances, from one ocean to another.

Keep reading to learn some interesting facts about the Atlantic blue marlin.

 #1: The Atlantic blue marlin is a favorite among anglers. 

The Atlantic blue marlin is one of the ocean’s fastest and strongest fish, and they are a real favorite of sport fishermen! This attraction to sport fishermen can have negative effects on this species, however. Programs like The Billfish Foundation’s Tag and Release Program allow anglers to enjoy sport fishing while also aiding in the conservation of this special sport fishery.

Atlantic blue marlin showing its stripes. PC: Hannes Ribbner
Photo Credit: Hannes Ribbner

 #2: Atlantic blue marlin are active hunters. 

Atlantic blue marlin eat a variety of fish found in varying depths of the ocean, including tuna, mackerel and squid. One way they catch their prey is by darting through bait balls while thrashing their heads, injuring and stunning the fish in the process, so they can be easily picked off by the marlin during a second pass.

Atlantic blue marlin parallel to the ocean. PC: Hannes Ribbner
Photo Credit: Hannes Ribbner

 #3: The Bahamas honors the Atlantic blue marlin. 

The Atlantic blue marlin is an honored fish species by some countries, including The Bahamas. The country has made it their national fish, and it is even featured on their coat of arms and $100 bill. 🇧🇸

Bahamas Coat of Arms. PC: Baron Jaguar
Photo Credit: Baron Jaguar

 #4: Where to find an Atlantic blue marlin 

The best place to find an Atlantic blue marlin is in deep offshore waters, also known as “bluewater.” Still, you may get lucky and spot one while it is hunting in nearshore surface waters. They are highly migratory, traveling vast distances to follow warm ocean currents and schools of fish.

Atlantic blue marlin breaching. PC: Hannes Ribbner
Photo Credit: Hannes Ribbner

 #5: The Atlantic blue marlin has the need for speed

Atlantic blue marlin can swim extremely fast. While their maximum swimming speed is not yet known, their close relative the black marlin has taken the prize for fastest fish in the ocean, observed reaching speeds up to 80 mph! They use this speed to catch prey when charging bill first into a bait ball.

Atlantic blue marlin in open ocean. PC: Gyro_GettyImages
Photo Credit: Gyro_GettyImages

 #6: What feeds on Atlantic blue marlins? 

With the Atlantic blue marlin being one of the largest and fastest species of bony fish in the ocean and with that imposing spear-shaped upper jaw, the Atlantic blue marlin has few natural predators. White and shortfin mako sharks are the primary predator of adult Atlantic blue marlins. However, juvenile marlins face a higher risk of predation because they are substantially smaller than the full grown adults.

Baby billfish. PC: Igor Assad
Photo Credit: Igor Assad

 #7: How big can the Atlantic blue marlin get? 

In many species of fish, the females grow larger and live longer than their male counterparts, and this is no different for the Atlantic blue marlin. They can grow to be 12 feet long and weigh up to 2,000 pounds, making them the largest species of bony fish. The average lifespans for females and males are 27 and 18 years, respectively.

Atlantic blue marlin skeleton. PC: Ryan Somma
Photo Credit: Ryan Somma

 #8: The Atlantic blue marlin is definitely adapted for hunting. 

What makes Atlantic blue marlins such fierce predators is a specialized blood vessel structure in their heads that allows them to keep their their brains and eyes warm. This rete mirabile, latin for “wonderful net,” is a network of concentrated blood vessels utilizing countercurrent exchange to increase the temperature in these areas. Having this adaptation allows them to think quickly and see more clearly when hunting, which gives them a major advantage over their prey.

Atlantic blue marlin on the surface of the ocean. PC:Paolo Parazzi & Africa Born
Photo Credit: Paolo Parazzi & Africa Born

Unfortunately for the Atlantic blue marlin, their populations are declining as a result of being mistakenly caught as bycatch in commercial tuna and swordfish fisheries. You can do your part to help conserve these amazing fish by taking part in The Billfish Foundation’s Tag and Release Program, choosing sustainably sourced seafood and protecting the marine environment they call home.


Additional Atlantic Blue Marlin Resources:
1. National Geographic – Blue marlin
2. Massachusetts
Division of Marine Fisheries – Learn about Atlantic blue marlin
3. Ocean Expert Exchange with Peter Chaibongsai and the Billfish Foundation.

Laura Jessop

Laura Jessop

I am an ocean enthusiast that has worked previously and continue to help at Local Ocean Conservation which is a non-profit organisation based in Kenya. I helped with the efforts of protecting sea turtles that have been caught as by-catch in the Indian Ocean. I help them digitalise and manage over 20 years worth of data that they have collected. Currently I am a remote intern here at ANGARI and very excited to help with the amazing work they conduct.

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