Billfish Safaris, a Costa Rica sport fishing company, teams up with National Geographic Crittercam to chase billfish

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Billfish Safaris and National Geographic are setting out to attach micro-cameras to marlin, sailfish and other rare fish in an effort to learn more about their underwater behavior.

Costa Rica sport fishing

The National Geographic Crittercam is a unique research tool developed to record video information on animal behavior in places and situations that would be impossible for a human to observe. The reason for its success is that the animals are the ones who film their own unique behaviors through the use of special micro-cameras. The cameras are attached in a manner that allows a harmless, first person view of animal behavior as they go about their daily lives without any human influence. Since its inception in 1986, founder Greg Marshall and his Remote Imaging team have successfully deployed these cameras on sea turtles, sharks, whales, penguin and even African lions! Now, they have set their sights on another type of ocean giant: billfish.

Commonly referred to as swordfish, billfish actually comprise four groups of fish including marlin, sailfish, spearfish and the broadbill swordfish. These fish are true ocean wanders, ranging in size from diminutive shortbill spearfish, which only reach about 60 pounds, to impressive blue and black marlin, which can grow to more than 13 feet long and weigh close to 1500 pounds! Despite their reputation as excellent table fare and their popularity with sport fishermen the world over, very little is known about this impressive group of fish. Learning about their natural lives is critical to successful conservation of these amazing fish. How do they find and catch food in the featureless open ocean? Where and when do they breed? Are they social creatures? These are just a few of the questions that will hopefully be answered by the Crittercam.

In their quest for billfish, the Crittercam project has teamed up with Billfish Safaris, a Costa Rica sport fishing company. As far as billfish are concerned, Costa Rica is a renowned hotspot with not only unusually large concentrations but well known conservation of their billfish resources as well. All billfish caught while sport fishing in Costa Rica must be released, which ensures the safety of all potential Crittercam subjects.

Billfish Safaris has specialized in Costa Rica fishing charters in the waters off northern Costa Rica for well over a decade and possesses the knowledge and experience to find the Crittercam team plenty of hungry billfish. Starting January 13th, the Crittercam team will board Billfish Safaris’ 40-foot Gamefisherman, the Plautus and head offshore in search of billfish.

In the weeks leading up to the arrival of the team, the conditions have been continually improving, as stated by Billfish Safaris’ staff marine biologist, Sam Friederichs. “Water temperatures and clarity have been steadily improving over the course of the last week," said Friederichs, Sunday, when asked to comment on the Crittercam’s upcoming arrival. "Our clients have had excellent success raising and releasing both sailfish and marlin. Our hope is that these conditions stabilize or continue to improve in the days leading up to the team’s arrival, which will hopefully concentrate the fish and potentially allow the cameras to film never-before-seen social interactions."

Billfish Safaris is extremely excited about hosting the National Geographic team and helping to further scientists' understanding of billfish behavior. “This is definitely something new for us," stated Billfish Safaris owner Jamey Harless. “We have always been avid supporters of billfish conservation over the years, but to have the chance to see what the marlin sees as it swims is something special, and we are definitely proud and excited that National Geographic Crittercam decided to partner with Billfish Safaris for this work.” Billfish Safaris will be reporting on the activities of the Crittercam project starting January 13th via Facebook and Twitter (@BillfishSafaris). For more information on the National Geographic Crittercam project, please visit http://www.nationalgeographic.com/crittercam, and for more information on chasing billfish with Billfish Safaris, visit http://www.billfishsafaris.com.

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