A spearfisherman was towed more than a mile off Christmas Island after shooting a black marlin that might have set a world record, had there been an operational scale nearby.
Jeremy Telfer was hunting tuna with friends late last month when he squeezed the trigger on a marlin that was later described as an “absolute horse.”
“Then it just took off … and by the time the boat caught up to us I’d been dragged 1.5km to 2km,” Telfer told The West Australian.
Telfer, 28, who is from Perth, said that friends in the water and on a boat helped him land the giant billfish. (The landing also required a series of floats attached to a line to prevent its escape.)
Back on shore the crew hoped to weigh the marlin, “because we knew it was a world-record fish,” Telfer said, but it was a local holiday and most businesses were closed.
The fishermen couldn’t find a scale and rather than wait another day – and let the flesh rot in hot temperatures – they took measurements and cut the fish into fillets.
“I was more concerned about the fish being wasted rather than the record,” Telfer said. “We had to string it up to a tree using a rope and then reverse the car, just so we could fillet it…. There was so much fish. We had to call a heap of people on the island to pick it up and take some home.”
Using a measurement formula that’s fairly reliable in determining approximate weights, they estimated the marlin to weigh between 550 and 600 pounds. It measured just over 10 feet long, not counting the bill.
The International Underwater Spearfishing Assn. lists a 467.2-pound black marlin, speared off Mexico in 2007, as the world record.
Spearing marlin for the sake of records is controversial, even among spearfishermen.
Telfer, who said he’ll never shoot another one, said he had been assured that black marlin in the region are not threatened or endangered.
The West Australian Undersea Club wrote on Facebook: “A fish this size is approximately 8-12 years old. Marlin are a sustainable fast-growing species.”
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists black marlin in a “Data deficient” category, stating that there have not been enough studies to determine a reliable status.
Michael Treble, West Australian Undersea Club chairman, described the marlin as an “absolute horse” after seeing images.
Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, is regarded as a big-game fishing paradise.