Mutilation Rule Disqualifies Prize-Winning Marlin in Fishing Tournament

Judges found evidence of a prior shark attack on the fish

Boats docked near Morehead City
Boats docked near Morehead City, NC.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The history of Morehead City, North Carolina’s Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament dates back to 1956, when the city’s Fabulous Fishing Club was established. As per a 2019 article in the magazine Marlin, the tournament itself began two years later, and has been running ever since, leading to generations of fisherman testing their mettle against marlins on an annual basis.

This year’s competition took an unexpected turn when an especially large marlin first won the competition, and was then disqualified. As local station WITN reports, the initial prize went to the crew of the Sensation, which reeled in a gigantic marlin that weighed in at over 600 pounds. (The average size of a blue marlin is, as per National Geographic, between 200 and 400 pounds.) Before long, however, judges noticed something that led the marlin to be disqualified.

As the Washington Post noted in their article, the tournament has a rule against signs of mutilation found on the bodies of fish competing in the tournament. In this case, judges found what appeared to be a shark bite on the marlin, which disqualified it from winning.

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The Sensation‘s crew didn’t just lose bragging rights here; as the Post reports, their win would have brought them in approximately $3.5 million, which includes a bonus for catching a fish that weighed more than 500 pounds.

In a statement released on Sunday, June 18, the tournament explained the decision to disqualify the marlin and pointed out that “[t]his decision is consistent with prior decisions made by the tournament in similar circumstances over the last 65 years.” The official winner of the tournament is now a 485.5 pound marlin — this one caught by the crew of the aptly-named Sushi.

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