HIBT Leader Board 2009
Race Fish:
Fish Team Distance
4 The Kurz Family of Laguna Niguel Billfish Club, Team 1 2,225 nmi
7 Pajaro Valley Game Fish Club, Teams 1 & 2, and the Monterey Bay Anglers 62 nmi

Research Fish Sponsored by Paxson Offield and deployed by McGrew Rice:

Fish Distance
A 1,036 nmi
B 2,651 nmi
C 1,847 nmi
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We Have A Winner!

Race organizers George Shillinger (l) and Randy Kochevar (r) with race winners Sally and Bob Kurz
After more than six months of racing and data analysis, the Race Committee is pleased to announce the results of the first Great Marlin Race held during the 50th Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (HIBT) in Kona, Hawaii during July 2009. Fish 4, sponsored by the Kurz family, and honoring Robert E. Kurz Sr., traveled 2,225 nautical miles from Kona over the course of 93 days, with its tag popping off just east of the Marquesas Islands. Quite a journey for a Pacific blue marlin estimated to weigh only 140 lbs! With this victory, the Kurz family of Laguna Niguel Billfish Club Team 1 has won a free entry to the 2010 HIBT, compliments of the tournament's founder, Peter Fithian.



The winning team departs on the A'u Kalani on the morning they tagged the winning fish.  Captain Scott Crampton (top), and (l-r) Crew John Crampton, Bob Kurz, Allen McGee, Sally Kurz and Tan Chin from Laguna Niguel Billfish Club, Team #1



The tag from Fish 4 was one of five tags that reported by its scheduled pop-up date. Finishing in 2nd place was Fish 7, sponsored by Pajaro Valley Game Fish Club (Teams 1 and 2), and the Monterey Bay Anglers. Unfortunately, this tag popped-up just 8 days after the race began. Three others tags, sponsored by Paxson Offield, were deployed in the two weeks following the race by Capt. McGrew Rice. Although not part of the Race, these marlin traveled significant distances, providing researchers with a fantastic data set. Similar migrations have been recorded using conventional (non-electronic) tags, but these are among the longest electronic records ever recorded for Pacific blue marlin.

Of the seven "race" tags deployed during the HIBT, five never reported in - although a relatively low success rate it is not without precedent. Other extended satellite tagging efforts with blue marlin have encountered similar problems for reasons not fully understood. However, with each successive tagging effort valuable information is gained and the Great Marlin Race is no exception.

The research team has agreed to provide five replacement tags for the 2010 Great Marlin Race, which will again be run during the HIBT, August 2nd-6th. These tags will be distributed on a “one-time basis” to returning teams whose tags failed to pop-up during the 2009 race. All tags used in this year’s race will be programmed for a 90-day deployment (instead of 180 days), which should increase the likelihood of more tags reporting back. Each tag will also be fitted with a pressure-activated release, which will sever the tag’s leader if it descends beyond a depth of 1,800 meters (the maximum depth satellite tags can withstand). This too will help ensure more tags surface should a marlin die or be attacked by another predator.

kona09_4tags_bymonth_v2_wlabelsOverall, the scientific information gained from the 1st Great Marlin Race was remarkable! Teams participating in this year’s HIBT will have an opportunity to attend a scientific presentation where they will hear more about what was learned from last year’s race and have an opportunity to ask questions. We encourage you to examine the chart on this page, as well as the interactive Google Earth map where you can follow the tracks through time. One surprise there is the diversity of behaviors seen among the four long-distance fish. Two marlin (Fish C and Fish 4) followed similar paths to the Marquesas Islands, where they arrived in late October. Fish B also wound up in the vicinity of the Marquesas, but spent much more time in the northern hemisphere – not even crossing the Equator until mid-November, and arriving at its pop-up destination on January 30. Fish A did something entirely different, migrating gradually east of Hawaii and winding up about 1,036 nautical miles east of Hawaii.

Might the Marquesas be another spawning area for Pacific blue marlin like the Big Island of Hawaii? Do they go there to feed? Why did one marlin seem to travel aimlessly east of the Big Island? By participating in this year’s Great Marlin Race you could help answer some of the questions surrounding these magnificent fish. Stay tuned!