By Jean-Paul Polo
From Sept 17th until October 1st 2012 the National Geographic Crittercam program joined marine biologist Sam Friedrichs and headed down to Club Nautico de San Juan on the Atlantic coast of Puerto Rico. Our mission is to try and deploy Crittecrams on Blue Marlin during the 59th International Billfish Tournament, a catch-and-release event held here every year. Anglers love this location because catching Billfish takes place only a mile offshore.
Trolling besides the participating boats on the 31 foot “Hook Up” gave us access to the different billfish being caught and released throughout the tournament. Once a boat had securely caught a billfish and had it next to their boat, we backed our boat next to them. Using a system that required tossing a tennis ball with our line attached to it we were able to safely and securely transfer the billfish to our line. The fish was quickly reeled in next to our boat where we attached the Crittercam.
Tournament Director Miguel Donato monitored the process from a spotter boat. The end result was six successful deployments in four days of tournament action.
With the support of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company a film crew from National Geographic together with local filmmakers documented the tournament action and the Crittercam deployments. The hope is to continue filming in different countries to produce a documentary on these majestic fish.