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Balboa, USA 2015


 
 
 
 
 

 

The first fish caught in the 2015 Master Angler Billfish Tournament

Team Black Fin's striped marlin was the first tagged in the race

 

The first fish tagged in the 2015 Master Angler Billfish Tournament

Black Fin's estimated 130 lb marlin swimming away with tag

 

The eight tag of the 2015 Master Angler Billfish Tournament

Hawk's marlin with Jeff Walker and Vartan Bagdasaryan

 

 
 

The eights tag of the 2015 MABT

Hawk's estimated 100 lb marlin with the last sat tag in the race

Balboa, USA 2015 Race Complete

JULY 2016 -- After anxiously awaiting the last tag to pop up on June 27, 2016, we can officially declare the race complete! Congratulations to The John & Donna Crean Foundation and Team Bounder on behalf of Los Pescadores in memory of Captain Ron "What's the Bottom Line" Johnson for winning the Balboa, USA 2015 IGMR!

The tag on the winning marlin, Fish 3, popped up on April 24, 2016 to reveal that the estimated 77 kg (170 lb) striped marlin swam south, making several loops along the Baha coast, before heading southwest and then eventually north to Hawaii where the tag popped up about 200 nm northeast of Oahu. The marlin recorded a point to point distance of 2,005 nautical miles but as evident by the track, swam much further- a distance we estimated to be 4,978 nm! Our Stanford colleague also pointed out that this might be the first time movement between Southern California and Hawaii has been seen with a satellite tag for a striped marlin!

Taking second place in the race was the last tag to pop up belonging to Fish 8, Team Hawk on behalf of Balboa Angling Club! On June 27, after reaching the exact programmed deployment period of 240 days, the tag on Fish 8 popped up northeast of Hawaii, 1,690 nm away from where it was deployed! Given that it popped up relatively nearby Fish 3, it will be interesting to see if the striped marlin followed a similar path. The track will be available in about a few weeks, but is still transmitting data to Argos satellites currently.

The third place title goes to Fish 7, Team Pacific Pioneer on behalf of the Tuna Club of Avalon! On April 29, 2016, after 202 days on the striped marlin, Fish 7 swam a linear distance of 694 nautical miles but a total estimated distance of 4,389 nm! As you can see in the interactive map, Fish 7 followed an eerily similar path as Fish 3, but Fish 7 traveling along the entire coastline of the Baha Peninsula, then southwest like Fish 3, but instead of heading towards Hawaii like Fish 3, Fish 7 circled back where he came from, up the Baha coast towards Balboa, and then straight out into the Pacific where the tag popped up!

Fourth place in the race belongs to Fish 6, Team Kea Kai & Team Royal Slam on behalf of Los Pescadores & Balboa Angling Clubs. As mentioned in the last update, Fish 6 tag popped up after just nine days on the striped marlin, but managed to swim a remarkable 61 nm during that time. Fish 6 headed due south along the coast, just like Fish 3 and Fish 7 swam, before the tag popped up.

Earning fifth place in the race was the other tag sponsored by Jock Albright, that on Fish 4. In the previous update, we mentioned that the marlin died shortly after tagging and the tag popped off after detecting no depth change. It's important to note, however, that this was a best guess by our Stanford University colleagues as to what may have occurred based on the extremely limited data they received from the tag. We at IGFA know all too well that even with all the proper knowledge and tagging experience, these are live and excited fish, and so tagging outcomes can vary.

Lastly, the tags on Team Black Fin on behalf of Dana Angling Club, Team Magellan on behalf of Tuna Club of Avalon, and Team Andreya on behalf of Los Pescadores unfortunately did not report. Given that Team Andreya took First place and Dana Angling Club took third place in last year's race, and all three clubs have been steadfast supporters of the program - sponsoring tags for two years in a row now- we understand that this is especially disappointing news. While we make every effort to get tag data from each and every tag deployed, this is an inevitable risk with any wildlife tagging program. Although the IGMR maintains a reporting rate of over 83%, we are terribly sorry that these tags did not report, and we still thank Team Black Fin, Team Megellan, and Team Andreya for participating. It's because of all the teams in the Balboa, USA IGFA Great Marlin Race that the IGMR will be returning for a third year in a row to expand upon the growing data set we now have on striped marlin - all thanks to them.


Balboa, USA 2015 Race Start

DECEMBER 2015 -- It's been three months since the Master Angler Billfish Tournament (MABT) -one of the most prestigious and longest running marlin tournaments on the west coast of the United States and where striped marlin were first added to the IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR) in 2014. This year, the IGMR returned for the two-day tournament September 11-12, 2015 where eight satellite tags were deployed on striped marlin.

The first satellite tag of the race went out two days prior to the MABT. In the evening of September 9, 2015, Geoff Heldoorn fought an estimated 59 kg (130 lb) striped marlin for a half hour before Black Fin Captain Jeff Tom released the fish for Team Black Fin on behalf of Dana Angling Club. The tag, due up on May 6, 2016,  was cosponsored by Jeff Acampora, Jeff Tom, David Peter, Stanton Mahler, Geoff Hersch, Chris Bailey, Craig Cleaver, Stephanie Hogan, Steve Gross, Geoff Heldoorn, Bob Waters, Bob Phillips, Willie Waite, David Guyot, Tucker Guyot, Bill Paddock, Richard Tunila, Brenton Davis, Ivan Rees, Ron Vesely, and John Tully.

Team Magellan on behalf of Tuna Club of Avalon's tag was the second to be deployed in the race and the only tag to go out during the MABT. On September 11, 2015, Colby Durnin tagged the estimated 68 kg (150 lb) striped marlin after a grueling two hour fight with angler Don Butts while fishing with Magellan Captain Rob Webster. Although it was a long bout, the crew reported that the fish "never appeared stressed" and they revived it until it had "full color" and looked "very healthy and strong". The tag was generously sponsored by the Tuna Club Foundation and is due to report on May 8, 2016.

Five days after the MABT concluded on September 17, 2015, Team Bounder deployed their tag on behalf of Los Pescadores in memory of Captain Ron "What's the Bottom Line" Johnson. The striped marlin, an estimated 77 kg (170 lb) fish, fought for 20 minutes with angler Alyson Gillet before Matt Earl tagged the fish aboard Bounder with Captain and Andy Crean. The John and Donna Crean Foundation independently sponsored this tag which is due to surface on May 14, 2016.

On September 28, 2015, the fourth tag of the race was deployed on an estimated 50 kg (110 lb) striped marlin by Charlie Albright after a quick fight with angler Bob Hoose while fishing with Kea Kai Captain Jock Albright. Unfortunately, the tag reported the very next day. The data indicated that the marlin died shortly after tagging as the tag went straight to the bottom and popped off after one day of detecting no change in depth (as programmed). The light levels and temperature data did not indicate a predation event. Jock not only fully sponsored this tag for Team Kea Kai on behalf of Los Pescadores, but he also cosponsored the sixth tag deployed in the race with IGFA Representatives Bob & Sally Kurz.

One week later on October 5, 2015, while fishing with Andreya Captain Karl Kogler, angler Nate Shill fought an estimated 54 kg (120 lb) striped marlin for approximately 30 minutes before he released the fish with fifth satellite tag in the race for Team Andreya on behalf of Los Pescadores. Andreya was the winning team of the 2014 IGMR, so it was no surprise to us when their data sheet recorded that the tag was perfectly positioned and secure, and they "took extra time to revive the fish thoroughly so it swam away healthy and strong". Team Andreya's tag, due up on June 1, 2016,  is a collaborative sponsorship effort from Spectra USA (Moe Joorabchi), Andreya Shill, SNR Graphics Inc (Suresh Khemlani), TJ Johnson,  Matt Kharrazi, Linda Macaulay, Mary Stein, Rick Hult, Mike Coon, Karl "KK" Kogler, Michele Kogler, The Grey Squirrel (Joseph Marshall), Jake & Josh Wilson, Don Ebright, Cortney Walstrom, Gail Nelson, Kelly Shill, David Shill, Diane Shill, Sara Unke, and Jeff Clary.

Two days later, after a short bout with Brett Catron, cosponsor and Kea Kai captain Jock Albright tagged an estimated 54 kg (120 lb) striped marlin for Team Kea Kai & Team Royal Slam on behalf of Los Pescadores & Balboa Angling Club. Unfortunately, the tag reported nine days later, 61 nautical miles (nm) away from where it was deployed. After close examination of the data, it appears that the tag pulled free from the fish. The pin was not broken and there is no indication this was associated with a predation event. Since the deployment report did indicate some difficulty in tagging this fish, we believe that the anchor may not have been set well in the fish.

Tag seven, the second satellite tag sponsored by the Tuna Club Foundation, was deployed on October 10, 2015, by Paul Hoofe for Team Pacific Pioneer on behalf of the Tuna Club of Avalon. According to the deployment sheet, the estimated 68 kg (150 lb) striped marlin swam away "with little effort and in excellent condition" after a quick fight with angler Jeff Blower aboard Pacific Pioneer with Captain Kyle Dickerson. The tag is due to surface on June 6, 2016.

On October 31, 2015, the eighth and final tag in the race was deployed on an estimated 45 kg (100 lb) striped marlin by Hawk Captain Evan Salvay after a 15 minute fight with angler Jeff Walker. The tag was jointly sponsored by IGFA Representative Rocky Franich and Ron Kawaja on behalf of Balboa Angling Club. This tag is due to surface on June 27, 2016, and we wish good luck to Team Hawk and the other five marlin racing for the first place title!

Our thanks and gratitude goes out to new MABT tag sponsors as well as veteran sponsors. This is the second year in a row The John and Donna Crean Foundation, The Tuna Club Foundation, and Jock Albright have independently sponsored tags. This is also the second year in a row from co-sponsorships from David Peter, Geoffrey Hersch, Nate Shill, IGFA Representatives Bob & Sally Kurz, Jeff Tom, Chris Bailey, Craig Cleaver, Matt Kharrazi, Suresh Khemlani, Ron Vesely, David Guyot, Bob Phillips, Willie Waite, John Tully, Don Ebright, Mike Coon, Kelly Shill, Diane Shill, David Shill, Gail Nelson, Sara Unke, and Cortney Walstrom. It is because of support like yours that this research program continues to grow and produce larger datasets that are increasing our understanding of billfish and ensuring the future of our sport.