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Fish Facts  »  Black Marlin


The black marlin is the only marlin with non-retractable fins. Another distinguishing trait is their dorsal fin which is proportionately the lowest of any billfish. It stands less than 50 percent of the fish's body height. The black marlin's back is slate blue and transitions to a silver belly. It may also have light blue stripes when excited.


Black marlin generally exist in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are a highly migratory, pelagic species that will rarely swim deeper than 100 feet. They are most commonly found in deep waters, near such prominent bottom structures as continental shelves and reefs.


Large black marlin are known to feed on squid, scad, mackerel tuna, frigate mackerel, and tuna.


The black's immense strength and exceptional size makes it a favored target among big-game fishermen. A fight with one of these fish can last for hours, wearing severely on the angler as well as the tackle. Anglers commonly troll brightly colored lures or rigged baitfish to catch this species. Other popular techniques include kite fishing (where baits are suspended at the surface from flying kites) and heavy-tackle fly fishing. Commercial fishing has put a strain on numerous black marlin fisheries worldwide. As a result of the depleted stocks, many sport fisherman are now tagging and releasing their catches. The firm, white meat is highly prized in Japan's sushi market, but banned in parts of Australia for its high selenium and mercury content.


Females can grow to 15 feet long and exceed 1000 pounds. Males generally are much smaller.


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