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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Blue Marlin

Marine Fisheries

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Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin

Makaira nigricans

AKA: marlin

Description: The body is cobalt blue on top shading to a silvery white on the belly. The upper jaw is elongated in the form of a spear. There are approximately 15 blue vertical bars on the sides. The dorsal and anal fins are pointed, as opposed to the white marlin, which has rounded dorsal and anal fins.

Size: Blue marlin is the largest game billfish. It is common up to 11 feet but has been known to be as long as 14 feet and weigh more than 2,000 pounds. Citations are granted for fish weighing 400 pounds or more and for the live release of a fish, regardless of size.

Sometimes confused with: white marlin, sailfish

Habitat: Blue marlin are found in blue oceanic waters throughout the western Atlantic. They migrate seasonally to stay in warm waters near the surface.

Eating habits: Blue marlin feed on squid and a variety of pelagic fishes, such as dolphin, tunas, mackerels and flyingfish. Scientists debate with what frequency the blue marlin uses its spear to stun or impale its prey. Predators of blue marlin include white and shortfin mako sharks.

Life cycle: Blue marlin spawn in the North Atlantic from July through September and in the South Atlantic in February and March. The eggs and larvae are free floating. Blue marlin can live to more than 15 years, although most fish caught are younger than 10 years.

Fishing tips: Sport fishermen catch blue marlin by trolling artificial and natural baits. Boats pull up to eight lines at speeds ranging from 4 to 8 knots. Two of the lines are pulled close to the boat on the surface and are called flatlines. The others are attached to outriggers. An artificial hookless teaser is pulled in the wake to attract marlin to the surface.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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