The International Billfish Tournament of Club Náutico de San Juan will serve as a launching pad for National Geographic Society scientists to deploy Crittercams on blue marlin. Nat Geo will install several Crittercams on blue marlin during the Tournament’s 59th edition, scheduled for September 23-30.
Gustavo Hermida, Commodore of Club Náutico de San Juan (CNSJ) and Miguel Donato, Tournament Chairman, said the Crittercams will capture images of blue marlin in their natural environment. Jean-Paul Polo, Nat Geo producer, said it will be the first time Crittercams will be deployed on blue marlin in a tournament setting. They will use boats fishing in the tournament to deploy the cameras.
National Geographic is working on a documentary about billfish, which will focus on biology, behavior and conservation. They will gather footage from many locations in addition to Puerto Rico, including Panama, Cape Verde, Australia and the Azores.
Currently, tests of a new Crittercam are being conducted in Costa Rica where Sam Friederichs, the projects main researcher, is located. For the past 20 years, the Remote Imaging Department of Nat Geo has deployed Crittercams on more than 65 species of animals from emperor penguins to whales, turtles and sharks in order to capture the essence of animals and how they behave in their natural environment.
“We will support National Geographic Society in anything they might need from our IBT,” said Donato. “Our tournament has been committed to billfish conservation since 1987, when the tag-and-release format was first implemented.”
Crittercams record for different periods of time and are designed to keep the species being studied safe. “The cameras can stay as long as we determine and record at various intervals of time,” said Marshall. “Once the predetermined time of recording is reached, the camera will release from the fish without hurting it. It will then rise to the sea surface and emit a signal similar to a beacon. The research team will then use various means to locate these cameras from boats, helicopters or even leave them floating until they reach the coast.”