Blue marlin ( <i>Makaira nigricans</i> ) longevity estimates confirmed with bomb radiocarbon dating

TitleBlue marlin ( Makaira nigricans ) longevity estimates confirmed with bomb radiocarbon dating
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsAndrews, AH, Humphreys, RL, Sampaga, JD
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Pagination17 - 25
Date PublishedJan-01-2018
KeywordsAccelerator mass spectrometry, Biology, Blue marlin, Ecology, Fish measurement, FisheryLongevity, Otolith, Radiocarbon dating

The longevity of blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) remains unresolved. The use of fin spines and sagittal otoliths for age reading has led to unconfirmed longevity estimates near 20-30 years. Age validation has been elusive because large individuals are uncommonly caught, and a technique that can be applied to structures that provide estimates of age was absent. The use of otolith chemical signatures has been limited by sagittal otoliths that are very small-whole otolith mass of adult blue marlin rarely exceeds 10 mg for the largest fish. Recent advances in the detection limits of radiocarbon (14C) with accelerator mass spectrometry-coupled with recently acquired knowledge of marine bomb 14C signals spanning the tropical Pacific Ocean-have led to an opportunity to age blue marlin from small amounts of otolith material. In this study, otoliths from a recently collected 1245 lb (565 kg) female blue marlin at a measured 146-inch (371 cm) lower jaw fork length were analyzed for 14C. Estimated longevity was either 12-21 or 32-44 years on the basis of bomb 14C dating. Using multiple lines of evidence, it was determined that the young age scenario was most likely, with evidence for an age close to 20 years using a series of deductions in the bomb 14C dating method.