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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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

Marine Fisheries

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White Marlin
White Marlin

Tetrapturus albidus

AKA: Atlantic white marlin

Description: The body is dark blue to chocolate brown along the upper half shading to a silvery-white belly. The upper jaw is elongated in the shape of a spear. The first dorsal fin is blue-black and covered with small black spots. The other fins are brown-black. Unlike the blue marlin, the white marlin usually has no spots or bars on the sides. The dorsal and anal fins are rounded and there is a visible lateral line.

Size: White marlin grow to 9 feet and 165 pounds. No citation is given for landing a white marlin but an award is given for the live release of sailfish, regardless of size.

Sometimes confused with: blue marlin, sailfish

Habitat: An offshore pelagic and oceanic fish, the white marlin is found in the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Argentina, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. White marlin inhabit the upper 40 to 100 feet of the water column in waters warmer than 66 degrees fahrenheit. White marlin migrate extensively, moving north off the United States from May through October and south in the cooler months.

Eating habits: White marlin feed near the surface during daylight hours on a variety of fishes including mackerels, herrings, dolphin and flyingfish, as well as squids and crabs.

Life cycle: Spawning occurs in the summer in deep oceanic waters with high surface temperatures. Both sexes reach sexual maturity at about 51 inches. They are fast-growing and live at least 6 years.

Fishing tips: Fishing methods for white marlin are similar to those for blue marlin, sailfish and dolphin. Fishermen troll with 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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