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Makaira nigricans

(Atlantic Blue Marlin)


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Family : Billfishes ; Oceanic species. Water color affects its occurrence, at least in the northern Gulf of Mexico, where the fish show preference for blue water . Rarely gathers in schools and usually found as scattered single individuals. Feeds mainly on fishes but also preys on octopods and squids . Marketed fresh or frozen[1]. Feeding takes place during daytime. Maturity reached at about 80 cm in males (40 kg ) and 50 cm in females (55 kg)[2].


Threat status

Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Afrikaans:

Blou Marlyn, Bloumarlyn

Common Names in Arabic:

ّيسلطأ قر

Common Names in Bikol:

Big-Ho´, Big-Ho', Layag, Olob

Common Names in Carolinian:


Common Names in Chinese:

大西洋藍槍魚, 黑皮旗魚

Common Names in Creole, French:


Common Names in Creole, Portuguese:

Espadarte, Tabala

Common Names in Danish:

Atlantisk Bl, Atlantisk blå marlin, Bl, Blå Marlin

Common Names in Dutch:

Blauwe Marlijn

Common Names in English:

Atlantic Blue Marlin, Blue Marlin, Billfish, Cuban Black Marlin, Marlin, Ocean Gar, Ocean Guard, Squadron

Common Names in Finnish:

Purjemarliini, Sinimarliini

Common Names in French:

Empereur, Empereur Bleu, Espadon, Makaire Bleu, Makaire Bleu De L'atlantique, Marlin Bleu

Common Names in German:

Blauer Marlin

Common Names in Hawaiian:


Common Names in Italian:

Augghia ´mperiali, Augghia 'mperiali, Marlin Azzurro, Marlin Blu

Common Names in Japanese:

Makajiki, Nishikuro, Nishikurokajiki

Common Names in Korean:

Nog sae chi, Nog-Sae-Chi, 대서양녹새치

Common Names in Mandarin Chinese:

大西洋蓝枪鱼, 大西洋藍槍魚

Common Names in Norwegian:

Bl, Blå marlin

Common Names in Other:


Common Names in Palauan:


Common Names in Polish:

Makaira Blekitna, Marlin błękitny

Common Names in Portuguese:

Agulh, Agulhão, Agulhão azul, Agulhão negro, Agulhao preto, Espadarte, Espadarte preto, Espadarte sombra, Espadarte-Preto, Espadarte-Sombra, Espadim, Espadim Azul, Espadim azul do Atlântico, Espadim-Azul, Espadim-Azul Do Atl, Espadim-Azul Do Atlântico, Espadim-Azul-Do-Atl, Espadim-Azul-Do-Atlântico, Espadium Azul, Espadium Azul Do Atlantico, Marlim azul, Marlim azul do Atlântico, Marlim-Azul, Marlim-Azul Do Atl, Marlin, Merlim, Peito, Peixe Agulha, Peixe-Agulha, Peto

Common Names in Romanian:

Marlin albastru

Common Names in Rumanian:

Marlin Albastru

Common Names in Russian:

Chernyi Marlin, Goluboi Marlin, Марлин си

Common Names in Samoan:

Sa'ula oso, Sa'ula-Oso

Common Names in Spanish:

Marl?n Azul, Abanico, Aguja, Aguja Azul, Aguja Azul Del Atlantico, Aguja Casta, Aguja Negra, Castero, Marl, Marlin, Marlin Negro, Merlin Rayado, Palagar, Pez Zuncho, Picudo Blanco, Picudo Rollizo, Prieta, Voladora

Common Names in Spanish, Castilian:

Abanico, Aguja, Aguja azul, Aguja azul del Atlantico, Aguja casta, Aguja de casta, Aguja negra, Castero, Marlin, Marlín Azul, Marlin Negro, Merlin Rayado, Palagar, Pez Zuncho, Picudo Blanco, Picudo Rollizo, Prieta, Voladora

Common Names in Swahili:


Common Names in Swedish:

Bl, Blå marlin, Blue Marlin

Common Names in Tokelauan:


Common Names in Vietnamese:

Cá maclin xanh


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Physical Description

Species Makaira nigricans

Distinctive Features: The blue marlin is the largest billfish . The upper jaw forms a large bill. The body is cylindrical from anal fin forward. Two dorsal fins are present; the first dorsal fin is high and slopes steeply posteriorly, while the second is small. The caudal peduncle has keels. The lateral line forms a large net-like pattern of hexagons canvasing the sides of the fish. The pelvic fins are slender. The lateral keels on the caudal peduncle assist in making this fish a powerful swimmer of great speed and stamina. Grooves for the pelvic fins improve hydrodynamics.

Coloration : The body is dark blue dorsally , shading to a silvery white ventrally. On the body there are 15 vertical rows of blue spots on the side, on a background of blue to silvery white.

Size, Age, and Growth: The blue marlin can reach a length of 14 feet (4.3 m ) and a weight of one ton (910 kg ). Females are generally much larger than males. IGFA lists separate records for Atlantic and Pacific blue marlin. The all-tackle record for the Atlantic is 1402 lb 2 oz (636 kg); the all-tackle record for the Pacific is 1376 lb (624.14 kg).


Occurring offshore in blue oceanic waters, the blue marlin prefers to stay in the warm waters near the surface, above the thermocline. They follow the seasonal water temperature changes, being closely tied to these warm waters. They are found in ocean waters great distances from the continents as well as coastal regions near deep waters , such as near the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico.

Typically found in water with a depth of 0 to -5,685 meters (0 to -18,652 feet).[3]

Ecology: This epipelagic and oceanic species is mostly confined to the waters on the warmer side of the 24°C surface isotherm and known to undergo seasonal north-south migrations. It is found to 1,000 m depth but spends the highest percentage of its time at shallower depths, and is not usually seen close to land masses or islands, unless there is a deep drop-off of the shelf. This species can dive as deep as 1,000 m, but it remains mostly within the upper 40 m. It is believed to form small-scale schools of at most 10 individuals. Larger fish tend to swim solitarily (Nakamura 1985) but smaller ones form aggregations.

It feeds on squids , tuna-like fishes , crustaceans, and cephalopods (Nakamura 1985). Spawning probably takes place year-round in equatorial waters to 10°N/S and during summer periods in both hemispheres to 30°N/S, in both the Indian and Pacific oceans (Kailola et al. 1993). In the southern hemisphere, concentrations of spawning fish probably occur around French Polynesia (Howard and Ueyanagi 1965). In Brazil, spawning occurs February to March from 20–23°S, primarily in the Abrolhos Archipelago (Amorim et al. 1998). Most of the individuals captured at this location have been juveniles (Amorim pers. comm. 2010).

Maximum time at large recorded is 11 years (Ortiz et al. 2003). Maximum age is estimated to be at least 20 years (Wilson et al. 1991). Maximum age is estimated in the Pacific as 27 years (females) and 18 years (males) (Hill et al. 1989). Age estimation in marlins is problematic and longevity information from the Pacific has also been applied to the Atlantic. Age at maturity is estimated to be two years (Prince et al. 1991, Torres-Silva et al. 2006). Using longevity estimates of 20 years and 27 years, and age of maturity of two years, the generation length was estimated to be between 4.5–6 years. The generation length is calculated as: age of first reproduction + z * (longevity - age of first maturity), where z is 0.15 (Collette et al. 2011).

The all-tackle game fish record is of a 636-kg fish caught off Vitoria, Brazil in 1992 (IGFA 2011).[4].

List of Habitats :


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Primarily near-surface pelagic fishes such as mackerels , tunas , and dolphin fishes are preyed upon by the blue marlin. Squids , and the occasional deep sea fish have been noted in the stomachs of blue marlin. Considerable disagreement among researchers exists over whether or not the bill is used during feeding. It is believed by some to be used to stun prey with a swift lateral strike or strikes. The blue marlin is capable of consuming prey of relatively large proportions. Blue marlin are not known to feed at night.


Spawning is known to occur near Cuba between May and November. Egg hatching is dependent upon temperature , but likely occurs well within a week. A single spawning produces millions of eggs each 1 mm in diameter, opaque white or yellow in color. Larvae are blue-black on the sides and dorsal surface, white ventrally. The caudal peduncle and caudal fin are clear. The head has two iridescent blue patches. Some individuals have darker spots along the back. The first dorsal fin in juveniles is very large and concave , gradually reducing in proportion to body size as growth continues.


Predators : Predators of the blue marlin include the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrhinchus).

Parasites: Although the blue marlin is well-studied, only 28 species of parasites have been reported worldwide from this fish. Parasites include digenea (flukes ), didymozoidea (tissue flukes), monogenea (gillworms), cestoda (tapeworms ), nematoda (roundworms), acanthocephala (spiny-headed worms), copepods , barnacles, and fish such as remoras (Remora sp. ) and the cookie-cutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis) which is known to take bites out of the flesh of marlins.


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Eumakaira nigraHistiophorus herscheliiHistiophorus herschelii (Gray • Istiompax howardiIstiompax mazaraMaikaira nigricansMaikaira nigricans Lacepède • Makaira amplaMakaira ampla (Poey • Makaira ampla amplaMakaira ampla ampla (Poey • Makaira ampla mazaraMakaira bermudaeMakaira bermudae Mowbray • Makaira ensisMakaira herscheliiMakaira herschelii (Gray • Makaira nigricans ampla (Poey • Makaira nigricans nigricans Lacepède • Makaira perezi de Buen • Orthocraeros bermudae (Mowbray • Tetrapturus amplus Poey • Tetrapturus herschelii Gray


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: Data last modified by FishBase 11-Jan-1998


Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans) of the Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic are conspecific (Buonaccorsi et al. 1999, 2001; Collette et al. 2006). The Indo-Pacific Blue Marlin previously was known as Makaira mazara (Jordan and Snyder).


Similar Species

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Members of the genus Makaira

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 8 species and subspecies in this genus:

M. ampla (Blue Marlin) · M. australis (Southern Marlin) · M. formosana (Spearfish) · M. holei (Striped Marlin) · M. indica (Short Nosed Sword Fish) · M. indicus (Short Nosed Sword Fish) · M. mazara (Indo-Pacific Blue-Marlin) · M. nigricans (Atlantic Blue Marlin)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 02, 2008:



  1. Nakamura, I. (1985). FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 5(125):65 p. [back]
  2. Bianchi, G., K.E. Carpenter, J.-P. Roux, F.J. Molloy, D. Boyer and H.J. Boyer. (1999). Field guide to the living marine resources of Namibia. FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. Rome, FAO. 265 p., 11 colour plates. [back]
  3. Mean = -2,745.160 meters (-9,006.430 feet), Standard Deviation = 1,469.140 based on 737 observations. Ocean depth information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
  4. Collette, B., Acero, A., Amorim, A.F., Boustany, A., Canales Ramirez, C., Cardenas, G., Carpenter, K.E., de Oliveira Leite Jr., N., Di Natale, A., Die, D., Fox, W., Fredou, F.L., Graves, J., Guzman-Mora, A., Viera Hazin, F.H., Hinton, M., Juan Jorda, M., Minte Vera, C., Miyabe, N., Montano Cruz, R., Nelson, R., Oxenford, H., Restrepo, V., Salas, E., Schaefer, K., Schratwieser, J., Serra, R., Sun, C., Teixeira Lessa, R.P., Pires Ferreira Travassos, P.E., Uozumi, Y. & Yanez, E. 2011. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06