Marlins are fish from the family Istiophoridae, which includes about 10 species. A marlin has an elongated body, a spear-like snout or bill, and a long, rigid dorsal fin which extends forward to form a crest. Its common name is thought to derive from its resemblance to a sailor's marlinspike.[1] Marlins are among the fastest marine swimmers.[2] However, greatly exaggerated speeds are often claimed in popular literature, based on unreliable or outdated reports.[2]

Atlantic blue marlin (Makaira nigricans)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Istiophoriformes
Family: Istiophoridae
Rafinesque, 1810
Type genus

The larger species include the Atlantic blue marlin, Makaira nigricans, which can reach 5 m (16 ft) in length and 820 kg (1,810 lb) in weight[3] and the black marlin, Istiompax indica, which can reach in excess of 5 m (16 ft) in length and 670 kg (1,480 lb) in weight. They are popular sporting fish in tropical areas. The Atlantic blue marlin and the white marlin are endangered owing to overfishing.[4]


The marlins are Istiophoriform fish, most closely related to the swordfish, which is the sole member of Xiphiidae. The carangiformes is believed to be the second-closest clade to the Marlins. Although previously thought to be closely related to Scombridae, genetic analysis only shows a slight relationship.


ImageGenusLiving species
Istiompax Whitley, 1931
Istiophorus Lacépède, 1801
Makaira Lacépède, 1802
Kajikia Hirasaka & H. Nakamura, 1947
Tetrapturus Rafinesque, 1810
  • Tetrapturus angustirostris S. Tanaka (I), 1915 (Shortbill spearfish)
  • Tetrapturus belone Rafinesque, 1810 (Mediterranean spearfish)
  • Tetrapturus georgii R. T. Lowe, 1841 (Roundscale spearfish)
  • Tetrapturus pfluegeri C. R. Robins & de Sylva, 1963 (Longbill spearfish)

Timeline of genera


In literature

A taxidermied marlin greets visitors to Dare County, North Carolina.

In the Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway's 1952 novel The Old Man and the Sea, the central character of the work is an aged Cuban fisherman who, after 84 days without success on the water, heads out to sea to break his run of bad luck. On the 85th day, Santiago, the old fisherman, hooks a resolute marlin; what follows is a great struggle between man, sea creature, and the elements.

Frederick Forsyth's story "The Emperor", in the collection No Comebacks, tells of a bank manager named Murgatroyd, who catches a marlin and is acknowledged by the islanders of Mauritius as a master fisherman..

See also


  1. Douglas Harper (November 2001). "marlin". Online Etymological Dictionary.
  2. Svendsen, Morten B. S.; Domenici, Paolo; Marras, Stefano; Krause, Jens; Boswell, Kevin M.; Rodriguez-Pinto, Ivan; Wilson, Alexander D. M.; Kurvers, Ralf H. J. M.; Viblanc, Paul E.; Finger, Jean S.; Steffensen, John F. (2016-10-15). "Maximum swimming speeds of sailfish and three other large marine predatory fish species based on muscle contraction time and stride length: a myth revisited". Biology Open. 5 (10): 1415–1419. doi:10.1242/bio.019919. ISSN 2046-6390. PMC 5087677. PMID 27543056.
  3. "Makaira nigricans, Blue marlin : fisheries, gamefish". FishBase.
  4. "Tunas and Marlins Officially Classified as Threatened | Smithsonian Ocean".

Further reading

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