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Gold Coast Australia 2013


IGMR billfish tag and release in Gold Coast, Australia in 2013.

Team GCGFC prepares to tag a marlin during the IGMR in 2013.

IGMR billfish tag and release in Gold Coast, Australia in 2013.
Photos of Team Gold Coast Game Fish Club 1 deploying a satellite tag in a marlin courtesy of Castille Charters (, Castille Charters!

Gold Coast, Australia 2013 Race Complete

JANUARY 2014 --The 2013 Gold Coast, Australia IGMR is officially complete and the winner is tag sponsor, Trent Knappick with team Zeus! Fish 3, a 160 kg blue marlin, was reeled in by Don Hawker and tagged by Darren Malaquin on June 1, 2013. Just 66 days later, the tag reported and revealed that the blue swam a total point to point distance of 578 nautical miles (nm)!

Second place in the race goes to team Gold Coast Game Fish Club (GCGFC) 1 whose fish (Fish 1) traveled 485 nm in just 76 days! The tag, sponsored by the GCGFC, was deployed by Mark Ripper on a 170 kg blue marlin that was caught by his daughter, Katie Ripper.

Team Gold Coast Game Fish Club 2 placed third in the race with a 140 kg blue marlin sponsored by the GCGFC. Reeled in by Kim Read and tagged by Darren Malaquin, Fish 4 traveled a point to point distance of 175 nm in 122 days. While the tag popped up on October 1, 2013, the notification for this particular tag was not sent until late December.

These distances represent a straight line from the point of deployment to where the tag actually popped off. As evident by the tracks on the map, all of these fish traveled much farther. We use point to point distances to determine the winner because deployment and popup locations are determined by GPS, while daily positions of tagged fish are estimated using a light-based algorithm. 

Although very unfortunate, the tag on Fish 2, team Sea Baby IV, sponsored by Phil McCloy, failed to report. Although we hope to hear back from every tag we deploy, there are some instances where tags fail to report. According to our partners at Stanford University, there are several reasons this might happen. First, although each tag is painted with anti-fouling paint, bio-fouling can still become an issue, especially on long deployments in tropical water.  If the antenna becomes encrusted with organisms, it can impede the tag’s ability to transmit data. Also, in very deep oceans basins like the Pacific, mortality of the tagged fish (from sharks or other large predators) could lead to the tag being crushed before it releases itself from the carcass. However, in this case we can only speculate as to the cause of the reporting failure. Fortunately, we have experienced nearly a 95% reporting rate from the Wildlife Computer’s satellite tags we use.

The tags from this race have greatly contributed to the data we have collected from billfish caught off of Australia. In fact, more tags have been deployed in marlin in Australia for the IGFA Great Marlin Race than any other country! To date, 31 tags (four more tags than the USA and its territories) have been deployed in Australian waters on blue and black marlin with a combined reported distance of 8,921 nm! Thanks very much to the sponsors, anglers, captains, and crew members of the Gold Coast, Australia 2013 Race. It is because of your efforts that we are better understanding marlin biology in the Pacific Ocean basin.

Gold Coast, Australia 2013 Race Start

AUGUST 2013 -- It may be the world’s smallest continent, but Australia is playing a large role in billfish research. The IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR) recently returned to the country for the third time and participated in the Gold Coast Game Fish Club’s Cabo Hatteras Billfish Shootout in Gold Cost, Queensland on April 19-21, 2013. A total of four satellite tags were generously sponsored during this event and programmed to record data for 180 days, bringing the total number of tags deployed in Australia to 19!

The first satellite tag of the Gold Coast IGMR, sponsored by the Gold Coast Game Fish Club, was deployed during the second day of the tournament, April 20th, on a 170 kg (375 lb) blue marlin. After a 20 minute fight, the fish was caught by angler Katie Ripper and tagged by her father, Mark Ripper, aboard the Castille III. The fish was described as being “very healthy” with “a lot of energy”.

Three weeks after the close of the tournament on May 13, 2013, the second satellite tag, sponsored by Phil McCloy, was deployed by Ashley Hurley on a 130 kg (287 lb) blue marlin. The fish was caught after a 30 minute bout with angler Melissa Campbell fishing aboard the Sea Baby IV.

The third satellite tag, sponsored by Trent Knappick, was deployed June 1st on a 160 kg (353 lb) blue marlin by Darren Malaquin aboard Zeus. The angler, Don Hawker, said the fish “came to the boat relatively easy for a blue” and was “nice and calm” with “no blood at all”. Just 90 minutes later, Tim Read hooked up with a 140 kg (309 lb) blue marlin aboard Adios. The tagger, Darren Malaquin, deployed the final satellite tag of the race, the second tag to be generously sponsored by the Gold Coast Game Fish Club.

So far, two tags in this race have reported. The first tag, from team Gold Coast Game Fish Club 1, reported on July 15, 2013. The fish swam a total of 485 nm in just 76 days. The second tag to report was from team Zeus on August 6, 2013. In only 66 days, the marlin took the lead for the race by swimming a distance of 578 nm! We will wait and see just how far the remaining, two marlin will swim- the race is still wide open!