BLACK MARLIN : Istiompax indicus
The Black Marlin has the biological name of Istiompax indicus but was previously classified as part of the Makaira family and known as Makaira indicus.
This Billfish species found almost entirely in the Indian and Pacific Oceans but also extends around the African Cape into the Atlantic. On the West side of the Americas it is found between Mexico and Peru, and sometimes slightly further north in California. It is rarely seen in Hawaii. In Panama they are protected by government legislation so Panama Marlin fishing is on a Catch and Release basis, reeling them in up to the yacht and then cutting the leader. We approve of fishing responsibly and have now voluntarily extended this practice to include the Cubera Snapper, even though it is particularly delicious.
It is of considerable commercial value and much prized by sport fishermen. The Black Marlin is a powerful fish , as are the other Marlins, and when one is is on the hook they fight like crazy making it a very exciting sport. They leap high out of the water and ‘tail-walk’ in a spectacular display. This marlin is one of the fastest fish, with speeds of up to 80 mph (130 km/h) as estimated from the speed that fishing line is pulled from the reel when hooked.
Unlike the other members of the Istiophorids, the pectoral are rigid and come out of the body at right angles and cannot be folded back. The body is deeper than the other Billfish, though only a little deeper than the Blue Marlin. It’s shoulder hump is a little more prominent which adds to the impression of a deep body. The sides of the body are quite flat, a feature that is emphasized in larger specimens. The females, who can be occasionally be up to 1,500 lbs, are larger than the males who rarely reach more than 300 lbs but have been known to reach 500 lbs. The spear of the Black Marlin appears thicker and more robust than the other Marlin species. They use the bill to slash prey before swallowing them.
The Black Marlin varies in color quite a bit. Most are slate blue above changing to silvery white below. Sometimes pale blue stripes can be seen on the sides of the fish when alive but these rarely persist after death. Sometimes the fish are milky white which gave rise to the Japanese name, shirokajiki or White Marlin, and the Chinese name pu-pi or white skin. The white color rarely persists out of the water, when the fish will turn an almost uniform bronze color. All the fins are dark. In Spanish they are known as Aguja Negra, Marlin Negro or Picudo Negro, and in French as Marlin Noir or Makaire Noir.
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