Text and Photos © Jon Schwartz http://www.bluewaterjon.com/
How do we know this? Marine biologists affiliated with Stanford University recently teamed up with anglers from the 50th annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (HIBT) that took place on the Big Island of Hawaii in July.
The Great Marlin Race.
Kochevar told me that the tag records data every 30 seconds for the 180-day period, including information on available light, depth, and temperature. This data tells him where the fish has been, how far it’s been diving, and how long it stays at these depths; exactly the type of information on marlin that is lacking in our current knowledge base.
Angling teams that purchased and sponsored the tags stay in touch with The Great Marlin Race scientists through their website, http://www.greatmarlinrace.org/ . Kochevar notifies the anglers when their tag pops up. Once all of the tags have surfaced, the one that has traveled the farthest distance from the point of insertion (in this case, the HIBT’s Kona Coast) wins the competition and a free entry into next year’s tournament.
Anyway, I was talking again with Kochevar this week, and he said, “Jon, you heard the incredible news, right?”
“Uh, no, Randy, but tell me!”
“A sat tag that we deployed on a marlin at the HIBT 94 days ago just popped up and started sending data to us via satellite. It traveled all the way down by the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, a distance of 2,225 nautical miles from where we tagged it!” My self-centered response was “Was it the one I got photos of?”
Kochevar laughed. “No Jon, I’m afraid it wasn’t!” He then proceeded to fill me in on the details, which will continue to unfold as the tag relays data to the team over the next ten-day period. Below is a picture of the people who sponsored the sat tag, Sally and Bob Kurz, with Ph. D student George Shillinger (left) and Dr. Kochevar ( right).
Since Kochevar is the expert on the project, I’m going to pass the ball back over to him and encourage the curious to visit http://www.greatmarlinrace.org/. He can answer detailed questions, and the site has lots more info on the Great Marlin Race. I’ll be checking in regularly to see all that the tag can tell us about the fish’s journey.