Dolphin Fish Research Program (DR) continues to restore tagged fish, document extraordinary travel and growth of colorful game fish

dolphin fish mark
The Dolphin Research Program is helping track the growth and movement of fish.
Courtesy of the Dolphin Research Program

Few fish are more prized for their athletic marine combat, speed, high jumping ability, and delicacy at the end of a fork than dolphins or dolphins.

For years, biologists and fisheries scientists have known that pelagic, ocean-dwelling dolphins travel far and fast, and grow into massive blue-water warships at an astonishing rate.

The Dolphin Research Program (DR) is at the forefront of ongoing scientific work on dolphins, with a wide range of fishermen tagging and releasing dolphins they catch so fish travel can be recorded. So far this year, about two dozen tags have been returned from dolphins caught in many locations, which means a recovery rate of nearly 5 percent of tagged fish.

The group recaptured a tagged dolphin for the 22nd time this year, according to an Oct. 15 DR report. It came from a commercial fisherman in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The dolphin was caught 19 miles offshore on a “Fish Gathering Device” (FAD). What’s interesting about this tagged fish is that it was tagged on September 15 by another fisherman at another FAD northwest of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The straight line distance between two Dominican Republic FADs is nearly 200 miles. DR said the fish traveled an average of just over 6.5 miles a day, and within a month, the fish grew to a staggering 2 inches.

On October 25, DR had its 24th dolphin capture of the year, this time in the Pacific Ocean. They report that angler Todd Floyd, who had an RD tagging kit, tagged several fish and released them on a recent trip to the Gulf of California. Amazingly, just 10 days later, a tagged dolphin was spotted off the coast of Loreto, Mexico. The most startling thing about the recovery of the 24-inch dolphin that Floyd tagged was that it grew an inch in just over a week.

The dolphin’s astonishing growth rate suggests that this fish is indeed a prey machine. This is one of the reasons they rate anglers so highly because the fish often eat well and use a variety of cast and trolling lures as well as live and manipulated lures.

Not all details have been obtained, but the DR said a recaptured dolphin was recorded in the Pacific Ocean west of the country’s capital, San Jose, near Jaco, Costa Rica in the last week of October. It is believed that the fish may have been tagged and released off Ecuador in February last year – about 500 miles away.

In July, a dolphin was tagged near feet. In June 2021, the USS Lauderdale 16-inch retriever was recaptured off Venezuelan waters – 374 days later roaming the open blue waters. In that short time, the dolphin grew to 57 inches long and weighed 58 pounds.

Dolphin tagging kits are available from DR through their website or Facebook page, and anglers are encouraged to get involved to learn more about this remarkable ocean-roaming gamefish. The reward for the returned dolphin tag is also provided by DR.

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