Costa Rica - click to expand
Initiated in December of 2011, the project is be based out of Quepos, Costa Rica in collaboration with Frenzy Sportfishing. During the Proof of Concept phase of this project, the team deployed pop-up satellite tags (PSATs) in two sailfish. The tags are leading edge solar powered PSATs developed by Desert Star Systems and will gather information on location, depth and water temperature to determine the migration patterns of billfish off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The team hopes to deploy up to 20 PSATs in the spring of 2012. Track the Fish >> | Photo Gallery >>

Guatemala - click to expand
Like most of the Pacific coast of Central America, billfish arrive in great numbers off the west coast of Guatemala during the months of January – March and depart in May. Are these part of the same stock as in Costa Rica? Do these fish leave and go to the same place as the Costa Rican fish? Project currently in the planning stages.

Panama - click to expand
From the time the famous angler Zane Grey tackled huge black marlin in the waters off Pinas Bay, Panama has been a big game angler's mecca. The Billfish Research Project team is anxious to deploy PSATs in this body of fish to determine their migratory patterns. If discovered to be the same body of fish that wander up into Costa Rica and Guatemala, fisheries management policymakers might treat these fish as one large biomass and the resultant improved management of the stock would have long term benefits to the fish and the economies of these Central American countries. Project currently in the planning stages.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico - click to expand
Famous for its January & February sailfish bite, Isla is a destination for many US based sportfishing boats. Despite its billfishing notoriety scientists know next to nothing about the migratory patterns of the billfish that visit the beautiful waters off this tiny Mexican island located just 10 miles off the mainland city of Cancun. The Billfish Research Project's team considers Isla to be a perfect place to conduct another migration study using PSATs. Project currently in the planning stages.

St. Thomas, USVI - click to expand
The North Drop around the full moons of June through September sees a huge number of Atlantic Blue Marlin coming through. The smaller males usually arrive first followed by the larger females. So is this a mating aggregation? Maybe so. Where are they when they are not hanging out busting the tackle of anglers? That's what The Billfish Research team hopes to learn by initiating a study there. Project currently in the planning stages.

Mauritius - click to expand
Located off Madagascar in the Indian Ocean this small country is famous for its beautiful beaches as well as huge blue and black marlin. Currently the records are 1430 for the blues and 752 for the blacks. Prime season runs November to April. Sound familiar? The Team has scientists in Mauritius very interested in studying the migratory patterns of these huge billfish. Project currently in the planning stages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kind of tags does The Billfish Research Project use?
A: The Billfish Research Project uses a tag developed by Desert Star Systems of Marina California. It is their SeaTag-MOD pop up satellite tag (PSAT). Click here to learn more about the PSAT technology >>

Q: How does the tag work?
A: The team programs the mission start date, mission end date and data collection interval into the tag. During the mission, the tag collects information on location, depth and water temperature. On the end date, the tag separates from the fish, floats to the surface and begins transmitting data to an ARGOS satellite. The scientific team then downloads the data into its computer for further analysis.

Q: How is the tag attached to the fish and is the fish harmed by the process?
A: Prior to any tags being deployed The Billfish Research Project science team reviewed the anatomy of billfish and devised a tagging protocol to be followed to insure that no harm would come to any fish tagged. The protocol included such things as where the fish would be tagged, how deep the tag dart would penetrate, the revival process, etc. For the initial deployment of tags the crew of Frenzy Sportfishing devised a method of calming the fish at boatside by covering the fish's eyes with a hand towel. Dr. Dean, Chief Science Advisor, gave specific guidance as to where the tag should be placed. By following the tagging protocol the team is able to deploy PSATs without risking harm to the fish.

Q: Are my contributions to The Billfish Research Project tax deductible?
A: The Billfish Research Project has partnered with the University of South Carolina's Baruch Institute. Donations to the project, made payable to the Baruch Institute, are tax deductible to the donor. The Baruch Institute will issue a letter to the donor regarding their contribution.

Q: How can I get involved in this exciting project?
A: To enhance the body of scientific knowledge on billfish migration The Billfish Research Project needs several things. Donations are needed to fund the purchase and deployment of tags, boat captains that are willing to take our team out to catch, tag and release billfish are necessary to our success, scientists that are willing to take the data and turn it into papers for submission to scientific journals are vital to enhancing the knowledge base on billfish migration.

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