CARTERET COUNTY - The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament pulls out the big fish. Once the celebration and the party's over, where do the marlin go? Some are brought to the NC State Marine Lab, CMAST, where scientists take samples and send those samples to other scientists all over the East Coast.
"We take various tissue samples and hard part samples and distribute those to various scientists that do research on blue marlin." says, Jeff Buckel, NC State Asoociate Professor of Biology. "We take muscle samples for mercury content. We take samples of the fish's gonad to get reproduction stages and sex. We look at stomach content because we are interested on what they're feeding on."
The blue marlin species does not come to CMAST very often. When fishermen catch any marlin, they normally release the fish and not bring it into the lab. Marlin have very high mercury content which is toxic to humans so we can't eat them. So scientists see the Big Rock Tournament as an opportunity to collect as many samples as they can.
Any fishermen who would like a souvenir of their prized catch the scientists save the fin and the bill at no charge.
TORI TIDBIT: The large fish you see in the tournament are mostly female. The male marlin grows to an average of 350 pounds.