Washed up marlin a ‘one-off event’

By Charlotte Wooldridge | posted on July 24, 2020

A PRIZED trophy fish washed up on Middleton Beach last week, leaving the Albany community wondering how the whopping creature found its way so far south.

Originally incorrectly identified as a male black marlin, the 3.8m, 280kg female blue marlin was spotted by local beachcombers last Thursday morning, sparking discussion around the cause of the fish’s mysterious appearance.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Principal Research Scientist Gary Jackson said a brief autopsy was conducted on the marlin in the Albany office before its disposal.

“[There were] no obvious signs of trauma, net marks or hook wounds,” he said.

“[The] gills appeared normal, the stomach was empty.”

While firm results are yet to come in from a NSW-based marlin and billfish expert who was sent tissue samples, Dr Jackson said it is most likely the fish found itself in Albany’s colder waters in summer and died due to the unusual temperature and lack of food.

“In the absence of full autopsy, it is likely that this fish died of natural causes when it found itself in cooler water that would have caused significant physiological stress,” he said.

Recfishwest Research and Development Officer James Florisson said while there were theories from members of the public online blaming poisons or plastics, it’s more likely a lot less exciting story.

“An event like this has happened before, there were five or six that washed up in 2013 and 2015,” he said.

“What’s likely happened is it’s come down with the Leeuwin current, which starts in Indonesia and finishes on the south coast of Australia and when there’s years of strong currents they come down with it.

“They come down in summer, but as it gets into winter there’s less food for them and that current gets stronger, so they can’t actually get back up.

“It’s pretty sad but it’s a natural process. If a whole lot of different species had turned up then we’d have cause to worry, but it was a one-off event.”