Category Archives: Billfish Feeding Habits

Sailfish Feeding Habits

Sailfish Feeding Habits

This is a summary of research reporting the stomach contents of Sailfish. The Sailfish is a warm water inhabitant and seems to be very opportunistic in its feeding habits. From big water prey to reef and shallow water ocean creatures, the Sailfish seems to adapt to whatever is available wherever it is found.

Common themes are:

  • Sailfish thrive in equatorial zones.
  • Sailfish prefer 77-85 F water temperatures.
  • Sailfish seem to prefer the smaller juvenile stages of the same prey larger Billfish consume.
  • Sailfish seem to eat a lot of Beltfish and Needlefish when available.
  • A higher percentage of Sailfish were found with empty stomachs than other pelagic species studied.
  • Apparently Sailfish use their sail to wall off prey and their bill stun them.

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White Marlin Feeding Habits

White Marlin Feeding Habits

This is a summary of research reports on actual stomach contents of White Marlin. The White Marlin is a very important sport specie in the Atlantic Ocean. In some ways, White Marlin habits are a bit different than other Marlins. Included are links to the reports and a pdf from the Brazil study if you care to dig deeper.

Common themes in these reports are:

  • The White Marlin is smaller than the other Marlins.
  • White Marlin spend most of their time in the top 33’ of the water column.
  • White Marlin dive deep more often than other Marlins but don’t stay down very long.
  • White Marlin prefer 75-84F degree water – and migrate to find it.
  • The mean length of prey found in a White Marlins stomach was 4”.
  • White Marlin like flying fish and squid and will “run down” their prey.

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Blue Marlin Feeding Habits

Blue Marlin Feeding Habits

Having read a lot of opinion on Blue Marlin feeding habits, I decided to dig around for research reports on actual stomach contents of this apex ocean predator. The only opinions that count are stomach contents. This subject has been studied more often than I would have thought around the world. Below is a synopsis of what I could find. Included are links to the report and a pdf if you care to dig deeper.

Common themes are:

  • Blue Marlin prefer water in the 80F+ temperature range
  • Due to the above point, they feed mostly toward the top of the epilagic zone (0-82 fathoms)
  • Blue Marlin are opportunistic, not passing up an easy meal of anything
  • Blue Marlin are efficient, not expending more energy than consumption of the prey will replenish
  • Due to the above point, Blue Marlin consume mostly various tunas, mackerels and bonito
  • Squid are an important component of a Blue Marlin’s diet
  • Dolphinfish (Mahi Mahi – Dorado) are mentioned often

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Striped Marlin Feeding Habits

Striped Marlin Feeding Habits around Cabo San Lucas Mexico

You have probably already read this research on Striped Marlin Feeding habits, published over 20 years ago. But in case you have not, here is a summary and a link to the original report in its entirety. This report is based on stomach content analysis – not opinion.

Key Points:

  • Striped Marlin feed several times a day.
  • Striped Marlin prefer water temperatures of 68-77 degrees F. (20-25C)
  • Striped Marlin spend most of their time in surface water – the top 33 feet or 10 meters.

Diet Based on Stomach Content Analysis:

  • 29% of a Striped Marlin’s diet is Pacific Mackerel
  • 16% of a Striped Marlin’s diet is California Pilchard (Sardines)
  • 10% of a Striped Marlin’s diet is Jumbo Squid
  • 8.5% of a Striped Marlin’s diet is Herring

To read the full report, visit this link: daily.ration.striped.marlin.2011

Take Marlin Off the Menu

Take Marlin Off the Menu is a joint campaign of Wild Oceans and the IGFA. For more information, go to www.takemarlinoffthemenu.org.

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