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What is a Black Marlin?

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  • Written By: Anna Harrison
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2016
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A black marlin is a popular game fish in the Istiophoridae family. It can be found swimming near the water’s surface in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Like other marlins, it can grow extremely large and can swim very fast. This marlin variant has great strength and endurance which makes it one of the most difficult game fish for fishermen to reel in.

This sport fish can grow to enormous proportions, reaching as much as 1,000 pounds (454 kg) in weight and 15 feet (4.6 m) long. Most, however, are in the 200 to 400 pound (91 to 181 kg) range. The black marlin is the largest of all of the marlins and the biggest are nearly always female.

They are not only black, but dark blue in color, with silvery bellies and a long sharp bill. It is the only marlin with rigid pectoral fins that do not lie flat against the body. The black marlin prefers to stay in warm water areas where the temperature does not drop below 68° Fahrenheit (20° Celsius). They usually stay close to the coast and near islands and reefs, only heading into deep water when evading predators.

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This type of marlin will eat nearly anything it can catch, including octopus, crustaceans, squid, and many different kinds of small fish. It is especially fond of tuna. The black marlin is one of the world's fastest fish, which makes it especially hard for its prey to escape. It can quickly and easily overtake just about any smaller sea creature.

Fishermen enjoy the challenge of catching black marlin as they are known to put up a terrific fight. When they are hooked, they tend to head down to deeper water at great speed. With their size and persistence, the struggle between angler and fish can last for hours. The best bait for catching these fish is usually rigged dead bait.

The black marlin is not endangered but has the potential to become threatened due to its status as a trophy fish. It is in great demand among fishermen, as most would love to have a huge black marlin mounted on their wall. Peru is currently the only country that has taken measures to protect this majestic fish by banning the sale of all that are caught in Peruvian waters.

In 2010, Greenpeace International listed the black marlin on its "red list" for seafood. Fish that are on the red list are in danger of future extinction. The demand for these fish is expected to greatly reduce the number living in open waters.

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