Hong Kong anglers reel in 226kg Pacific blue marlin in South China Sea
A Pacific blue marlin reeled in by six Hong Kong men may be among the biggest caught locally
A 3.6-metre-long, 226kg Pacific blue marlin reeled in by six amateur deep-sea anglers south of Hong Kong has been described as a "once in a lifetime'' catch by an expert.
It may be among the biggest of the species ever caught in the South China Sea.
The fish took six Hong Kong-based hedge fund traders 3½ hours to reel in aboard their boat, Warbird, 65 nautical miles due south of Aberdeen.
Kim Stuart of the Mandarin Sports Fishing Club said there had been no reports of a blue marlin catch in local waters for at least 15 years.
The team of fishermen, skippered by David Tuthill, 31, caught it last Sunday in perfect weather conditions near the Dongsha Islands.
"It was a constant team effort between the driver of the boat, the angler and the team helping around you," said Tuthill of the battle to get the fish on board.
He said he could not have landed the marlin without the help of his fellow fishermen Brad Ainslie, 35, Greg Moore, 31, Andrew Bazarian, 41, Dan Shepherd, 31 and Carl Vine, 36. The fish had died by the time they landed it, Ainslie said.
Australia-based billfish expert Dr Julian Pepperell, author of Fishes of the Open Ocean, confirmed from photo evidence that the financiers had hooked a blue marlin, and described it as a once-in-a-lifetime catch.
Like its Atlantic cousin, the Pacific blue marlin is "phenomenally powerful" and puts up "incredible fights", he said. "On a number of occasions they will die fighting all the way through."
Dr Pepperell said the catch was all the more unusual because the fish was outside its favoured habitat in cooler, less deep waters.
Stuart, a 26-year veteran of the Hong Kong fishing community said: "It's extremely rare. They generally prowl 48 degrees north [of Hong Kong] and 48 degrees south so to be this far north is quite a way out of it's normal range ," he said.
Stuart believes the catch could help boost interest in fishing in Hong Kong.
According to figures provided by the International Game Fishing Association, the marlin would have been worth US$10,000.
The world record for a blue marlin was last set in 1982 when a couple caught a 4.9-metre, 624kg fish off Hawaii.