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The Story Behind a Rare Sailfish Recapture

Anyone involved in a tagging program is excited when they get a report of a recapture since these are the lynchpin of a volunteer, constituent based program. So when scientists with NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center were notified just after Thanksgiving that a few tagged sailfish had been recaptured, they were thrilled.

On November 30, 2021, moments after the catch, the NOAA team received a sailfish recapture report from Captain Paul Ross on the charter boat Relentless from Bud ‘n Mary’s Marina in Islamorada, Florida. He suspected that the tag they were looking at was one he had deployed recently because the tag number was very close to those he still had onboard. While it was not a tag Ross deployed, it was one from a sailfish Captain Alex Adler tagged on Halloween on the charter boat Kalex. These two boats tie up about a hundred feet from each other and the fish was recaptured within a mile or so of its original release location. Ross replaced the original tag with a new one so NOAA can continue to track this fish.

rare sailfish recapture tag

That day got more exciting when two additional reports came in to NOAA to report catches from a few days before. On November 27, two other tagged sailfish were recaptured. As the NOAA team began recording the details, they started realizing what a rare situation this was.

One fish had been tagged six months earlier off the coast of Miami from the charter boat Billin Office with Captain Nelson Delatorre. Captain Mike Brady on Cowpoke and angler Allie Schelin, recaptured it off of Ft. Pierce, Florida–about 120 miles north of the original release location.

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