The Mighty Blue Marlin | Ocean Vet | S01 E04 | Free Documentary

The Mighty Blue Marlin | Ocean Vet | S01 E04 | Free Documentary

This is Doctor Neil Burnie. He lives in Bermuda, a stunning Atlantic Island
six hundred and forty miles east of North Carolina, USA.He’s spent the last thirty
years practicing veterinary medicine, but now he’s transferring his veterinary skills
to help save, protect, and learn more about the incredible marine life of Bermuda’s
Ocean. This is a completely wild shark. Alongside his dedicated Ocean Vet team, are
a number of scientists, Yeah, this and probably. marine biologists,
Just cut a little nick off the back fin. and specialist master divers, helping to perform
a number of unique and dangerous procedures, in a bid to safeguard critically important
marine species.Together, the team will be fitting satellite tags to huge tiger sharks,
saving precious green turtles, dissecting giant blue marlin, and obtaining unique toxin
samples from forty five tonne, migrating, humpback whales. Yay! Woo hoo! My knees are like jell-o. Yes, man! This is Bermuda! Home to Doctor Neil Burnie, the Ocean Vet. These glorious waters off the coast of Bermuda
are home to one of the most coveted game fish species in the world, the giant blue marlin! The blue marlin is the largest of the Atlantic
marlins and one of the biggest fish in the world. Native to tropical and temperate waters, the
blue marlin is among some of the most recognisable of all fish. Choy’s gonna hold him up. I’m gonna plant the tag. In this incredible episode, Neil, and the
Ocean Vet team are on a scientific mission to satellite tag one of these powerful animals. Their aim is to collect marlin movement data
and provide the information to an international bill fish conservation project. We’ve decided although blue marlin fishing
requires a great deal of patience, we haven’t got quite enough. After several gruelling hours at sea, the
team’s luck changes when a sports fishing boat decides to hand over a huge blue marlin
for the tagging procedure. This fish is gonna swim, man. His dorsals up. He’s gonna swim, I tell ya. On occasions these monster fish are caught
and killed in fishing competitions. Utilising the body of one such fish, and Neil’s
unique veterinary skills, the team will also be dissecting and studying the anatomy of
these incredible animals. Five hundred and seventy three pounds of blue
marlin. What a magnificent fish this is! Together with unique tracking data to support
this animal’s conservation, and the body of a marlin donated to the Ocean Vet team
for research, this episode reveals the very makeup of Bermuda’s famous blue marlin. So the blue marlin is considered by many to
be the ultimate sport fish, requires serious gear because it’s powerful runs can strip
a reel of line in no time. This is a large bait that we use, we troll
this behind the boat, and the reel here is capable of exerting massive amounts of drag,
so that we can tire the fish out. Hopefully we tire the fish out, before we
tire me out. Catching one of these huge fish for tagging
will not be easy. Choy Aming, the series marine biologist; Andrew
Kirkpatrick, the team’s underwater videographer; Dylan Ward, the team’s fisherman; and Oscar
Duess, the second boat captain will all be working together to bring a blue marlin to
the side of the boat. So at first glance you may think that this
is a fairly large lure, but you have to consider that a one thousand pound blue marlin is entirely
capable of eating a two hundred pound yellowfin tuna in one bite. The Atlantic blue marlin are under intense
fishing pressure. In the Caribbean alone, Japanese and Cuban
fishermen annually take over a thousand tonnes of this fish. Alright, we’re on. Just watch the tag on the floor! Yep, I’ll be on this side. Neil, and his team’s goal is to satellite
tag a Bermuda blue marlin. The tag data will be sent to the bill fish
research project and shared with fishery policy makers to help protect bill fish species like
the blue marlin from over fishing. There’s one thing about marlin fishing,
we’ve always got to look at how these lures are working, captains and mates will obsess
about the action of these different lures saying this lure works better in this condition,
this lure works better in another sea state. Personally I think as long as it throws bubbles
and a marlin’s hungry he’s gonna eat it. The team have been fishing the deep sides
of Challenger Bank for several hours. Several other large sports fishing boats are
also fishing around Bermuda’s banks. In an attempt to increase the team’s chances
of tagging a blue marlin, Dylan, puts out a radio message offering a thousand dollars
to any boat that transfers a large blue to the team.It looks like their plan may have
worked. We’ve decided although blue marlin fishing
requires a great deal of patience, we haven’t got quite enough. Another boat has hooked up a blue, and we
are going to go and take that blue, transfer it to this boat, and put a PSAT tag in it. So we’re pulling all our lines in and we’re
heading over to the other boat, right now! Neil opens the throttles on each of the two
hundred and fifty horse power engines, hurtling the ocean vet boat over the ocean at fifty
miles an hour, straight towards the sports fishing boat, Marlin Fever. En route, more information comes over the
radio. They might kill it. They’ve already got it boat side. They’ve already got it boat side. It sounds like the animal may be killed as
a contender for the Bermuda marlin world cup. The marlin world cup is held in Bermuda each
year, and has a ninety eight percent release ratio. But if a marlin is large enough, it may be
killed for a top prize. However, the world cup donates hundreds of
thousands of dollars to conservation projects established to ensure the numbers of these
fish now, and in the future. Now, look at his dorsal going up! Alright! In total, sport represents only one percent
of blue marlin mortality. And all fish killed, are eaten or donated
for scientific research. Snap swivel is coming. Gabber painted bottle has a. Back in the action, Neil, and the team have
reached, Marlin Fever, and the fish is still alive. Alright, so, er, Marlin Fever is going to
donate their blue to us. We’re going to give them our snap swivel. We’re going to take over the fish. We are gonna land it on, Bones, and we’re
gonna put a PSAT archival tag in it. What would you like to call it? We’ll, we’ll, call you back on the dock. You can tell us what you want to call the
fish and we’ll get your email so we can send you guys the track and everything. Choy, has now transferred, Neil’s, fishing
line to, Marlin Fever, where their crew have attached it to the leader hooked to the fish. Good! Let him go! Neil, now has control of this blue marlin! So we now have a blue marlin on the line. We’re gonna bring him over to our boat. We’re gonna lead him on our boat, and we’re
gonna put a PSAT archival tag in this fish, and we’re gonna track it around the ocean,
and, she’s, he’s swimming right now, I can feel him pulsing below me, right here! In the background, the Ocean Vet team are
scrambling to ready the boat and equipment needed to handle this fish. The blue marlin is under the boat, making
slow circles, swimming strongly. We’re just getting our team organised. Ok, now, I want you to idle forwards, keeping
the fish on the port side of the boat. Once the animal is at the surface and within
reach, Dylan, quickly inserts the water hoses to pump oxygen over the animals gills. I can see the colour returning to this fish
as we’re pumping this oxygenated water over his gills. It really seems to be doing a great job at
reviving him. I’m gonna jump in the RIB, we’re gonna
put the tag in this fish, and let him go. Just watch the tag on the floor! Yep, I’ll be on this side. Time is now of the essence. The welfare of this animal is, Neil, and the
team’s top priority. Stress can easily kill these gigantic fish. I’ve got the tail, come on! I’m ready to place the tag! I’ve pre-made the hole. You ready? Bring him in a little closer. Tag, is placed. Check it! Tag is placed, and firmly checked. That’s it. The tag is in. PSAT tag, is deployed in this fish. Good luck, buddy! I’m gonna jump overboard. Next, Neil, jumps in to prepare for the release. Neil, what’s happening? This fish is gonna swim, man. His dorsals up. He’s gonna swim, I tell ya. Ok. Let it go. I think i’m gonna need to! In six months the tag will drop off this fish
and transmit it’s data to satellites hundreds of miles above. The tag on this fish, among others, is providing
the data needed to legislate protection and enhance conservation for this economically
and ecologically important species. So, that was it! Yeah! Yeah! The Ocean Vet team has tagged and released
a blue marlin, out here, on Bermuda’s, Challenger Bank, exactly as we’d hoped to do so. And the good news is, we didn’t have to
spend six days ourselves fishing for it. Woo! Patience is a virtue, but sometimes the impatient,
actually, can be better. Yeah! Next, the Ocean Vet team are preparing to
dissect a five hundred and seventy three pound blue marlin. So it’s the morning of our dissection. We’re here at the Spanish Point Boat Club. We have a large blue marlin. We’re going to open this fish up and see
exactly the internal anatomy of this amazing marine giant. Choy Aming. Hey. Oscar Duess, and Dylan Ward are our team. It’s gonna take all of us to cut this fish
apart. This marlin has been killed for sport in the
Bermuda marlin world cup, an international sports fishing competition. Although initially concerning, it’s important
to understand that sports fishermen donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to major
conservation and research projects. Fortunately my wife is off Island at present,
and does not realise that her favourite kitchen knives are going to be used for cutting up
this rather large fish. Neil, and the team will be dissecting this
fish in an attempt to show how much of an evolutionary miracle this species really is! Rather than it being served up, the team are
seizing an opportunity to educate and share it’s impressive secrets. Neil believes that by increasing the public’s
understanding of this species, it’s possible to inspire greater conservation. Wow! Check the size of this fish, man! She is incredible! Over five hundred, so, yeah, you’re right,
it’s definitely a ‘she.’ Definitely a female. Five hundred and seventy three pounds of blue
marlin. What a magnificent fish this is! So, Choy, what do we think the function is
of this massive bill on this fish? Well these guys love to, erm, they go in in
schools of, er, prey fish. What they’ll do is, they’ll charge right
in and they’ll actually slash back and fourth, almost like a sword fighter with a sword,
and they’re hoping to injure, damage, you know, even kill the fish right there, and
then they go ahead and eat it. And not only that, they’ve, er, they’ve
actually skewered fish in the past, and, in fact, there’s one local fisherman, Ian Card,
was transfixed by one, a bill on a fish bigger than this, apparently, which took him right
through under the collarbone and the fish took him out of the boat, thirty feet down
under the water, he was lucky to survive. The fish never touched the boat. Thirty feet through the air, six feet above
water, took a one hundred and eighty pound guy out of the boat. Yeah, i’ve heard that story and, it’s,
I can’t even imagine, I can’t even imagine. The marlin’s agility and extraordinary power
has evolved over thousands of years to ensure that the animal can successfully hunt. This agility and power is provided by massive
muscle groups that run down each side of the animal’s body. These muscles are on the frontline of ensuring
the animal’s survival. Removing and revealing these muscle groups
is the team’s first step to understanding how this animal’s body functions. So, Choy’s making his first cut along the
lateral line of this fish. We’re gonna try to remove the dorsal fillet,
the main muscle group running down the back of this fish, in one or two pieces. I’m gonna join him. I’m gonna cut from here, and my cut’s
gonna join his, and we’re gonna remove this muscle. The animal has two types of muscle that have
evolved to support different swimming behaviour. Neil has taken a sample of the combined muscle
to the inspection mat for a closer look. So, here we have the loin of our marlin. I’m gonna cut right through it, here, and
show you the two different muscle masses. This is his anaerobic, his fast twitch muscle,
this is what gives him his huge amount of power. As this contracts, either side of his spine
and flexes him, it generates a rear facing wave of motion which powers him out of the
water. Tail walks, spectacular! He can pull a twelve tonne fishing boat backwards
through the water. This, on the other hand, is his red muscle
which allows this fish to travel thousands of kilometres looking for food without burning
any energy. As we released our fish he swam away on this
muscle, this was not tired. This muscle, was shattered. Blue marlin are able to recover from extreme
spells of exhaustion and travel thousand of miles by switching between their different
muscle types. Feeding both these muscle groups with vital
oxygen is the job of the animal’s huge gills. Choy, and Neil have removed the protective
gill plate to take a closer look. So yesterday we had a fish alongside the boat,
and we put a tag in it. What we were very careful to do, was when
we slowed the boat down, we put two hoses into the mouth of this fish, and we sent oxygenated
water from our pumps straight over the gills of this fish, and that mimicked, absolutely,
the movement of a fish at several miles an hour through the water. These fish can ventilate enough for their
slow twitch muscles when their moving at one or two miles an hour, but when they’re moving
fast they generate way more oxygenation and that’s what we mimicked with our hoses. Oxygen is actually pulled out of the water
by the gills, and it actually transfers through little filaments right into the blood stream,
and these are very, very, fine structures. Blood passes against sea water within about
a millionth of a metre, one micron, so it’s a very, very, tiny area. And there’s actually about eight of them
here, times two sides, that’s a huge amount of surface area that it actually has in a
compact space to pick up oxygen out of the water. So you can see, even though this is a small
structure it is enough surface area to grab oxygen for a fish this size. Oxygen is the key to the animal’s overall
function, but so is the energy created from it’s food. The marlin’s eyes are it’s secret weapon
when it comes to finding this food. The function of the eyes have an incredible
secret, Neil, and Choy have removed the armour plating around the organ to find out more. So now that we’ve cut away the bony portion
of the back of the orbit here, we can reveal the muscles that attach to this tough eyeball. Yeah, and right here, yeah, right where your
finger is, I can see perfectly what’s referred to as the thermogenic organ. And the thermogenic organ is effectively,
erm, some extra ocular eye muscles that sit in the back and over time, what has happened
is, they have, er, evolved less in terms of the, er, contractile myofilaments, and they’ve
increased in the number of, er, mitochondria producing more ATP. So that generates a whole lot of heat. So, basically, not very much elasticity or
strength, but a whole lot of heat generating behind this eyeball. So we have central heating for this fish’s
eyeball. Exactly! And not only that, but the blood also runs
into the retina. It’s warm, the eye works way better when
the fish is down a mile deep in the cold, cold, water of the deep abyss. He can still see, the other fish can’t,
so he’s got the upper hand. Also, his brain is receiving a blood vessel
from the same heater organ, so he’s got a warm brain. He doesn’t get cold. He doesn’t get hypothermia. He’s cooking. The internal heating system, in this otherwise
cold blooded animal, allows the fish to spot prey effectively in cold deep water. In order to reach this deep, cold, water,
the marlin uses it’s swim bladder. A special organ, that allows the animal to
quickly move up and down through the vast water column. This is fascinating, man. Look at this, we’ve got the swim bladder
sitting here and I believe we’ve got the rest of the organs located right down beneath
it right here. So here’s the swim bladder, we can actually
remove it from the fish, this is filled in a remarkable way. Oxygen is drawn from the bloodstream, into
the bladder, to increase the buoyancy and bring the marlin up in the water column. In fact, anglers have seen marlin with their
dorsal and tail out of the water floating right at the surface. Then, when he needs to, oxygen can be returned
to the depleted blood, here, at the rear of the swim bladder, reducing it’s buoyancy and
allowing the fish to sink down. Much in the same way that a diver would use
a BCD, a buoyancy control device, to move up and down in the water column. Careful, mind your fingers. Yeah, yeah, gotcha gotcha. The main skeletal element inside the marlin
is the vertebral column, similar to a human spine, it’s composed of multiple vertebrae. In the case of the marlin, their vertebrae
are considerably different. Good on this end. It’s just that side that needs a little. And here we have it. And what you may be able to see here that’s
difficult to see, but the actual vertebral body is here, and here, and here, and yet
the spinous processes are separated by some two inches on either side. So basically we’ve got an interlocking vertebral
body system which gives this fish, this flexibility, and, yet, this regility. So when those big powerful muscles pull this
fish from side to side it’s like a spring driving him through the water and powering
him into the air. Neil, and Choy have revealed some of the blue
marlin’s impressive anatomy and shared some truly remarkable features, features that have
enabled this fish to thrive throughout our Planet’s oceans. But one part of the marlin’s anatomy has
evolved above all others, the blue marlin’s tail! So we’ve seen how the muscle and the vertebral
column generate all power that goes to the tail. Here it is, the most efficient osculating
propeller that we know. This, when driven through the water can produce
speeds of over forty miles an hour for this fish, and throw it thirty feet through the
air. Guess what? I have almost an exact replica, and this is
the latest modern computer design foil for my windsurfer. Look how remarkably similar it is to what
nature has achieved after natural evolution has occurred over millions of years. The marlin had it right all along, a variable
aspect foil. Brilliant in design. Dissecting an animal like this has provided
me with a unique opportunity to learn more about this creature. Like so many marine species they are often
out of sight, out of mind. This has reaffirmed to me why we work so hard
to protect all marine species. They deserve our attention. They have developed into such remarkable creatures! Neil and the team continue to work with the
sports fishing community, and plan to tag more blue marlin in the coming years. I’m ready to place the tag! The tag on this fish revealed the marlin travelled
three hundred miles North of Bermuda. It was likely following the Gulf Stream’s
temperature gradient.This cold and warm water meeting point tends to accumulate marine life. It’s highly likely this blue marlin was
in pursuit of food. I think i’m gonna need to! Sadly the tag malfunctioned and popped off
just after this journey. Consequently, no long-range migration was
recorded. Neil and the team will be continuing their
work to gather more data, data that will ultimately help protect this species long into the future.Next
time on Ocean Vet, Neil, and the team join the Bermuda Turtle Project, helping to collect
vital data in a bid to improve the numbers of green sea turtles around the world. He actually looks in pretty good shape. Neil will also be rescuing sick green sea
turtles from Bermuda’s beaches to rehabilitate, and release them back into the wild. We wish this guy all the best. He has a tough road ahead as he continues
on his epic journey. Good luck little one!

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Here’s a novel alternative(s). How about shaming (or sinking) foreign fishing vessels that don’t comply with international regulation and convincing rich assholes that their manliness cannot be determined by their ability to pay for the experience of killing anything. Thinking of Donald tRUMP junior for example.

  2. thought i was going to see a beautifull fish in its natural habbitat, not to see you guys enjoy carving up one of gods creations and then claim its proof of evolution ..

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