The Billfish Story
Swordfish, Sailfish, Marlin, and Other Gladiators of the Sea
Publication Year: 2013
The Billfish Story tells the saga of this unique group of fish and those who have formed bonds with them—relationships forged by anglers, biologists, charter-boat captains, and conservationists through their pursuit, study, and protection of these species. More than simply reciting important discoveries, Stan Ulanski argues passionately that billfish occupy a position of unique importance in our culture as a nexus linking natural and human history. Ulanski, both a scientist and an angler, brings a rich background to the subject in a multifaceted approach that will enrich not only readers’ appreciation of billfish but the whole of the natural world.
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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List of Illustrations
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Almost twenty-five years ago, I caught my first billfish, a blue marlin, in the Gulf Stream waters off North Carolina. By marlin standards it was not a huge fish, probably topping out at approximately three hun-dred pounds, but its tenacity, power, and jumping ability made a last-ing impression on me—leading me on a path of discovery and angling ...
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Roaming the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean are predators at the apex of the oceanic food chain—the billfish. These species include the sailfish, spearfish, white and blue marlin, which are all part of the same biological family, Istiophoridae; and the swordfish, the only member of the Xiphidae family. Probably no other feature better defines these ...
CHAPTER 1 The Rise of Billfish
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An eighty-pound female sailfish, large for her species, slowly cruises the cobalt-blue waters around the island of Bermuda in search of her next meal. She has ridden the powerful Gulf Stream to this ancient island, which plunges thousands of feet to the ocean floor. As the result of a complex interplay of Bermuda’s underwater topography and current ...
CHAPTER 2 The Interlocking Web of Ocean Life: From Plankton to Billfish
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During the last week of September 1492, Christopher Columbus had more to worry about than finding a sea passage to the Orient; his ships were adrift in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, becalmed by weak winds and lack of currents. Columbus immediately recognized the gravity of the situation. With the possibility of running out of potable water, ...
CHAPTER 3 Billfish through the Ages
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More than ninety years ago Zane Grey generated considerable interest in billfish with the publication of his book Tales of Fishes (1919), stories Suddenly my line rose—and then, bewilderingly near the boat, when I was looking far off, the water split with a roar and out shot a huge, gleaming, white-and-purple fish. He blurred in my sight. Down he went with a crash. ...
CHAPTER 4 Anatomy of Tournaments
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For over two hours, angler Andy Thomasson aboard the Citation had struggled with a blue marlin that refused to surface, opting instead to bulldoggedly hunker down, but Thomasson’s determined efforts ulti-mately brought the marlin to the gaff. As Captain Eric Holmes related, “When we finally saw it, we couldn’t believe it.” And back at the dock, ...
CHAPTER 5 The Ultimate Billfish: Blue Marlin
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The captain’s cry—“long, left outrigger!”—sent the mate scurrying over to that side of the boat. Even as Dan grabbed hold of the 80-pound test outfit, removing it quickly from the gunwale’s rod holder, line con-tinued to peel off the reel at an eye-blurring pace. Shouts of “blue mar-lin” rang out, and in the distance, I saw a dark form streaking toward ...
CHAPTER 6 Night Stalkers: Swordfish
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Dominating the entrance to the fishing museum of the International Game Fishing Association in Dania, Florida, is a larger-than-life sculp-ture of a leaping swordfish, suspended in air as if defying gravity and rebellious in nature with its bill thrust skyward. Soaring twenty-four feet in the air, this stainless steel sculpture by Ken Ullberg is just one dra-...
CHAPTER 7 Billfish Bantamweights: Spearfish, White Marlin, and Sailfish
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For some adventurous souls, catching billfish from a traditional water-craft, like a boat, has lost its appeal, or at least diminished in intensity, and they have sought out other more exotic and, yes, dangerous meth-ods. The use of kayaks has in recent years exploded onto the billfish scene. In addition to the adrenaline rush from seeing a hooked billfish ...
CHAPTER 8 The Fate of Billfish
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Conservation or exploitation—which way will the scale tip with regard to the billfish? Is there a common ground to be achieved among the vested interests? The search for answers may start with a glance back through history, when our relationship with nature was much simpler tive angler, catching and keeping numerous fish. The essayist Paul ...
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Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 11 figures, 5 color paintings
Publication Year: 2013