striped marlin

Striped Marlin: Fun Facts, Habitat, Behavior, Fishing Tips

The striped marlin (Kajikia audax) is a large, migratory predatory fish known for its striking appearance, incredible speed, and importance to both sport fishing enthusiasts and commercial fisheries. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics, habitat, and ecology of this fascinating marine species, along with its conservation status and the challenges it faces in the wild.

Striped Marlin Fun Facts

  1. Color-changing abilities: Striped marlin can rapidly change their body coloration depending on their mood, behavior, or surrounding environment. This ability is due to special cells called chromatophores in their skin, which help them camouflage themselves or communicate with other marlins.
  2. Warm-blooded adaptation: Unlike most fish, striped marlin are partially warm-blooded. They can regulate their body temperature to some extent, allowing them to maintain higher body temperatures than the surrounding water. This adaptation enables them to hunt in cooler waters and enhances their swimming speed and muscle performance.
  3. Airborne acrobatics: Striped marlin are known for their spectacular aerial displays when hooked by anglers. They can leap out of the water several times, performing flips and jumps in an attempt to free themselves from the fishing line, making them a highly sought-after species for sport fishing enthusiasts.
  4. High-speed swimmers: Striped marlin are among the fastest fish in the ocean, capable of reaching speeds of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour). Their streamlined body shape, powerful muscles, and rigid, crescent-shaped tail fin enable them to achieve such impressive speeds.
  5. Unique feeding strategy: Striped marlin use their long, slender bills in a unique way to feed. They slash through schools of small fish, such as anchovies or sardines, stunning or injuring them with their bills. Once the prey is disoriented, the marlin can easily pick them off one by one.
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Scientific NameKajikia audax
SpeciesK. audax
Common namesStriped marlin, Nairagi, A’u, Billfish
Description & AppearanceElongated, streamlined body with a pointed snout, a dorsal fin, and a long, slender bill; dark blue on top and silvery-white below, with blue vertical stripes on its sides.
SizeUp to 4.2 meters (13.8 feet) in length and 190 kilograms (420 pounds) in weight
HabitatOpen ocean, usually offshore, from surface waters to depths of about 200 meters (660 feet)
DistributionTropical and subtropical waters of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans
DietCarnivorous, feeding on fish and cephalopods
ReproductionOvoviviparous, females give birth to live young after a gestation period of about 2-3 months
LifespanAbout 8-10 years
Ecological rolePredators of smaller fish and cephalopods, prey for larger predators such as sharks and toothed whales
PredatorsSharks, toothed whales, and humans
Conservation statusNear Threatened (IUCN Red List)
Economic importanceValued as a sport fish and for commercial fisheries, especially in Japan for sushi and sashimi
Human interactionStriped marlin are often caught by recreational anglers and by commercial longline and purse seine fisheries
EvolutionDescendants of ancient bony fish; billfishes evolved their elongated bills as an adaptation for feeding
AdaptationsStreamlined body for fast swimming, bill for slashing through schools of fish, ability to change color for camouflage
Research & discoveriesOngoing research on population dynamics, migration patterns, and the impact of fishing on striped marlin populations
Captivity & aquarium tradeNot commonly kept in captivity or traded in the aquarium industry due to their large size and specific habitat requirements

Description and Appearance

The striped marlin boasts an elongated, streamlined body designed for speed and agility in the water. Its most distinctive feature is its pointed snout, which extends into a long, slender bill. The fish is dark blue on top, transitioning to a silvery-white coloration below, with blue vertical stripes adorning its sides, giving it the name ‘striped marlin.’

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Size and Weight

An adult striped marlin can measure up to 4.2 meters (13.8 feet) in length and weigh up to 190 kilograms (420 pounds). Comparatively, its larger cousin, the blue marlin, can reach up to 5 meters (16.4 feet) in length and weigh in excess of 540 kilograms (1,190 pounds).

Habitat and Distribution

Striped marlin are most commonly found in the open ocean, usually remaining offshore. They typically inhabit surface waters but can dive to depths of about 200 meters (660 feet). These fish thrive in tropical and subtropical waters across the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans, with notable populations residing near Hawaii.

Diet and Feeding Habits

As carnivorous predators, striped marlin feed primarily on fish and cephalopods, targeting species such as mackerel, anchovies, squid, and octopuses. Their elongated bills enable them to slash through schools of fish, injuring their prey to make it easier to capture and consume.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Striped marlin reproduce through ovoviviparous reproduction, with the mother carrying fertilized eggs internally before live newborns are expelled. The gestation period for striped marlin is approximately 2-3 months, with a typical lifespan ranging between 8-10 years.

Ecological Role and Adaptations

These fish serve as vital predators within their ecosystem, controlling populations of smaller fish and cephalopods. In turn, striped marlin are preyed upon by larger predators such as sharks and toothed whales. Their streamlined body shapes allow them to reach impressive speeds, while their ability to change color provides camouflage in their open ocean environment.

Conservation and Human Interaction

The striped marlin is classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List due to overfishing pressures and increased demand for their meat in commercial markets. The species is also often sought after in the aquarium trade, contributing to declining populations in the wild. Sport fishing enthusiasts prize striped marlin for their size and speed, often using marlin mounts and lure spreads to attract them during fishing trips.

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Economic Importance and Culinary Uses

The striped marlin holds significant value in the sport fishing industry and as a desirable catch in commercial fisheries. Though not as valuable as the blue marlin, the striped marlin’s flesh is still sought after for sushi and sashimi dishes in Japan. The fish’s mild and firm meat can be prepared grilled or as part of various seafood recipes. Market prices for striped marlin can vary, but typically fall within an affordable range for many consumers. Additionally, the striped marlin notably features in the popular mobile game “Tap Tap Fish.”

World Record Striped Marlin

The current world record for the largest striped marlin caught stands at at 224 kilograms (494 Pounds) and was reeled in off the coast of New Zealand.


How big can striped marlin grow?

Striped marlin can grow up to 4.2 meters (13.8 feet) in length and weigh up to 190 kilograms (420 pounds).

What is the difference between striped marlin and blue marlin?

The primary differences between the two include size, with blue marlin being larger, and the striped marlin’s distinctive blue vertical stripes.

Are striped marlin edible and what do they taste like?

Yes, striped marlin are edible and have a mild, firm-textured meat.

What is the world record for the largest striped marlin caught?

The world record stands at 224 kilograms (494 Pounds).

How much does a striped marlin cost per pound?

Prices vary, but striped marlin generally falls within an affordable range for many seafood consumers.

What are some popular striped marlin recipes?

Grilled striped marlin and marlin-based sushi and sashimi are popular dishes.

What is the average weight of a striped marlin?

An average weight ranges from 30-150 kilograms (66-330 pounds).

What adaptations do striped marlin have for their environment?

Striped marlin have a streamlined body for fast swimming and an ability to change color for camouflage.

What do striped marlin eat?

Their diet consists primarily of fish and cephalopods, including mackerel, anchovies, squid, and octopuses.

What is the conservation status of striped marlin?

Striped marlin are classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.