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Costa's Marlin Fly Project Pioneers First Recorded Billfish Research Tagging Mission on Fly

Discoveries from the first-of-its-kind fly-fishing project will help fill crucial data gaps and aid in global and local efforts to conserve the highly migratory striped marlin.

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Costa Sunglasses has announced the Marlin Fly Project, the first recorded billfish research mission solely using fly tackle. The project, which took place in Southwestern Baja, Mexico, in December of 2022, brought together Costa Pros (professional anglers and fishing guides), leading billfish scientists, conservation organizations, and community partners (including the Indifly Foundation, Finns West, Travel Creel, and Los Locos Mag Bay) to pursue this mission in tandem with local captains, guides, and the San Carlos community.

“The epic fishing tales coming out of Magdalena ‘Mag’ Bay alone attracted us to the region in 2021, but what we found there was an authentic community, rich with culture, built alongside an untamed ecosystem,” said Jed Larkin, Brand Director for Costa Sunglasses. “That trip sparked a trailblazing idea–what if we brought our global community of scientists, partners and pros together with the local community of San Carlos to research and protect this special resource? And that’s how Marlin Fly was born. Rooted in both community and conservation, this project is everything we stand for as a brand.”

The Marlin Fly Project, which was conducted in collaboration with the Billfish Foundation, the International Game Fish Association, and the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Fisheries Research & Development, deployed 15 satellite tags on striped marlin in Magdalena Bay, Mexico. The tags will track the fish for up to five years, providing scientists with valuable information that can be used to protect and conserve billfish populations, including post-release survivability, migration patterns, swimming depth, and water temperature. An additional 20 spaghetti tags will provide important ongoing recapture data. The discoveries from the program will help fill crucial data gaps and aid in global and local efforts to conserve this highly migratory species.

Southwestern Baja, Mexico is a hub of culture and community, built alongside an ecosystem that, for three to four months a year, features some of the most incredible striped marlin fishing in the world. Striped marlin have only a brief history of minimal scientific research–making them one of the least understood billfish species–especially in this region of the globe, where they are the star of the show for ecotourism.

An over photo of several striped marlin near bait balls.
The deployed tags will track post-release survivability, migration patterns, swimming depth, and water temperature. (Photo courtesy Nick Price/Costa Sunglasses)

“Through this collaboration, Costa's Marlin Fly Project is set to collect unparalleled data about striped marlin that will help play a pivotal role in supporting conservation and enhancing fisheries management efforts,” Peter Chaibongsai, Director of Conservation Programs at The Billfish Foundation, said. “We’re honored to be a part of such a unique project that puts community at the forefront. The strong bond forged with the locals not only enables them, but also fosters a sense of advocacy. This ensures that the project's impact extends far beyond scientific research–it creates a network of passionate advocates dedicated to conserving this resource for years to come.”

All landed fish were fully assessed by scientists to determine viability prior to tagging. All landed and tagged fish swam off strong, according to a Costa data sheet on the project.

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