Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blue Marlin Attack!
Part II of The Epic Wildlife Encounters

Continued from the post: Mahi Mahi Extravaganza! - Part I of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

After about two hours of swimming and fishing actions, we already had loads of excitement and adrenaline rush to be emotionally and physically drained. However, this was the last day my friends from Tokyo, Makoto & Naomi, could go out as they were leaving tomorrow, so I was determined to take them out as far as I could. In addition, Makoto wanted to see oceanic whitetip sharks, Carcharhinus longimanus, so we continued to look for them everywhere.

Without much success in finding oceanic whitetip sharks, we arrived at the next buoy. The buoy seemed to be holding some fish from the look of sea birds and other fishermen.

sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus = Sterna fuscata, and wedge-tailed shearwater, Puffinus pacificus, feeding on bait fish driven to the surface by attacking skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis, underwater, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

And then, we saw fish breaking the surface and sea birds started diving down. Here we go! Feeding frenzy started. We trolled through the birds pile and my Penn reel immediately screamed as a fish devoured my lure. Hanapa'a! It was a fairly big skipjack tuna or aku in Hawaiian, Katsuwonus pelamis, - a good eating fish if you prepare it right.

We wanted to catch much better eating yellowfin or bigeye tunas, but we weren't interested in catching any more aku, so we moved out to the next FAD in search of the oceanic whitetip shark and other better-eating tunas.

At the third FAD of the day, my fish finder was locating lots of fish at 80-250 feet. The very first drop of my jig hooked a nice size bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus. Now we had enough fish for ourselves, but we still wanted to see the shark.

Our time was running out for the day but we decided to check out one more FAD located 6 miles down south. We arrived there late afternoon and soon picked up a decent size skipjack tuna. Then, an  unthinkable thing happened. As I reeled in my skipjack, a humongous blackish object with flashy neon blue lines showed up under our boat, and swam straight for my fish on line in a lightening speed! "Billfish!", so I screamed. And then, I screamed again, "it's a blue!!!" Yes, it was a huge blue marlin, Makaira nigricans.

I moved my little tuna swiftly away from the bill but the hungry monster fish relentlessly attempted to attack the tuna right by my boat's gunwale! This marlin was fairly big - about 12 - 14 feet in length, weighing...who knows but easily 300-400 lb or maybe more. The body was lit by its hunting, fighting color - neon blue.

It was so fascinating to watch such a big fish being able to move that fast! Literally lightening fast! The size, speed, outrageous color, and its determination as an apex predator... impressive. The event was crazy, frenzy and surrealistic but all of us witnessed the animal's stunning beauty and overwhelming power.

blue marlin, Makaira nigricans, off Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

It was an awe-inspiring, humbling experience to see a marlin hunting the prey like that. The poor tuna was totally freaked out. The attack of the marlin was brutal and merciless... Wow!

It was a scary sight, too, but I realized this to be the once in a life time opportunity to photograph blue marline hunting behavior, so I started scrambling around the boat to get ready for the action.

I handed the fishing rod and the "bait" to Naomi, and specifically told her NOT to feed the marlin. Makoto and I hurried up to get in the water to photograph. And then suddenly with one burst of the loud noise and huge splash, the marlin gobbled the bait in one bite, leaping out of the water, and snatched it off my puny 50lb line. Holy cow!

The game was over as quickly as it started. I was extremely disappointed in not getting any pictures of this event, but at the same time I felt a bit of relief because I didn't have to get in the water with the angry marlin!

The marlin did not only scared us but also scared other fish in the entire visinity, so the fishing was so over there, too. Now we were completely drained by the event. We decided to give up on the shark, and headed home. The sun was setting but we still had 30 miles to go.

To be continued to: Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Mother & Baby - Part II of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

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