10 Apr 2007

Offield Center for Billfish Studies

PIER initiated a marlin research program in 2000 that has steadily grown in size and scope to the point where the program has officially become known as the Offield Center for Billfish Studies (OCBS) in 2003. OCBS has grown into the largest billfish program in the world, with over 200 satellite popup tags being deployed since the project began. Initial focus was on striped marlin off the coast of Mexico, but recent years have seen the program focus on black marlin and, more recently, blue marlin. Tagging sites include California, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Australia. Scientists involved in past and present OCBS research include Dr. Julian Pepperrell, Dr. Heidi Dewar, Dr. Suzanne Edmands, Dr. Guy Harvey and Mr. John Gunn.

Marlin are one of the most prized saltwater game fishes. Their large size and acrobatic leaps have lead to their acclaim, including starring roles on television and books (e.g. Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea). Marlin are of tremendous importance to local economies that are staging grounds for sport fishing. Marlin are targeted by a few commercial fisheries (most notably striped marlin in Australia and Ecuador) and incidentally killed by swordfish and tuna long-line operations. The habitat preferences, movement patterns and stock structure of the world’s marlin species is not well understood, stressing the need for the research conducted in the OCBS program.