Sixteen years and about 1,200 pounds later, a little bluefin tuna got big.
The 14-pound bluefin tagged southeast of New York’s Block Island in 1997 by Capt. Al Anderson — whose anglers have tagged tens of thousands of fish in the skipper’s long career as a charter skipper out of Point Judith, Rhode Island -- was recently recaptured.
The 1,200-plus-pound giant was pulled in by a Nova Scotia boat. Although the conventional tag couldn’t reveal where the fish had gone during that period, only two other fish in the history of the NOAA Fisheries Cooperative Tagging Program have been at liberty as long.
That program provides fishermen with tags for fish they release. After tagging a fish, they send the tag number to NOAA Fisheries, along with date, location, length and weight. If the fish is recaptured, the fisherman can read the number and call it in. That allows scientists to track migration patterns and estimate growth and mortality rates for these valuable species, according to a program spokesman.
Get more information and free tagging kits from NOAA here.