Roca Partida, a solitary rock 250 miles off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, is the size of a small gymnasium. Its walls angle sharply downward, 300 feet below the surface. Its tendency to attract and concentrate tuna and wahoo makes it a popular destination for long-range fishermen. Swimming up-current from that rock in 1994, I encountered my first large marlin.
I am 25 feet under the surface, following two 50-pound tuna, another 30 feet below me. Suddenly, they diverge and scatter like frightened minnows. Still focused on where the tuna were, my eyes are unable to clearly distinguish the huge, torpedo-shaped, blue-gray blur, streaking straight up from the depths. WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP. . . . My body resonates deeply as each beat of the marlin's great tail cavitates the water. It passes the scattering tuna and continues straight toward me, as if to pierce my chest. At the last second it levels off, just inches under me. Still rocking in its wake, I am unsure of what I have seen because of the animal's great speed.
Now I can distinguish the shape of a huge blue marlin as it eyes me warily, circling me just 20 feet away. It turns directly toward me. We are poised as duelists: the marlin with its mighty sword, aimed directly toward me with the spear tip wavering back and forth, and me with my speargun, aimed and ready.
Should I shoot? It is a trophy and surely a world record! If it were going
to hurt me, slashing or stabbing me with its sword, I would already be injured. What if I
only wound it and the 500-pound fish drives its sword into me? Just then, it turns,
presenting me with a perfect kill shot. It is a mass of muscles, with two distinct
longitudinal bands bunching and rippling down its side. I remain in total wonder of one of
the ocean's most powerful killers, so perfectly designed with a mighty body and a head
shaped like the Concord jet airliner. The moment of indecision passes, and ultimately the
majestic and aloof marlin dismisses me, sinking silently into the indigo depths.
* * * * * *
Beautiful and ferocious, marlin occupy the crown of the ocean's predatory pyramid. The stomach contents of one 1,500-pound black marlin contained a 150-pound yellowfin tuna_whole! Ample evidence exists to prove that these largest of billfish use their sword to stun and in some cases, spear their prey. World spearfishing champion Terry Lentz, while commercial fishing off Hawaii, cast a skipjack bait into the path of blue marlin. The marlin pierced the middle of the skipjack's body and then swallowed it whole, hook and line attached. In all the excitement, another hook attached to the marlin's line became deeply imbedded in Terry's hand. Only quick action with a sharp knife to cut the line prevented Terry's prompt exit from the back of his boat behind the fighting marlin...................
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Copyright © 1997 Terry Maas, BlueWater Freedivers