A 619-pound blue marlin was disqualified from a fishing tournament in North Carolina over the weekend because of apparent bite marks on its flesh, depriving anglers of more than $3.5 million in prize money.
Fishermen on the boat Sensation believed they had landed the winning fish at the 65th Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City, N.C., hauling in the year’s first catch to surpass the 500-pound mark (and earning an additional $739,500 in the process).
However, when tournament officials went to weigh the marlin, they found a chunk missing from its side and disqualified it.
“It’s the final hour, the final day and we fought with him for six hours,” Sensation captain Greg McCoy told The Washington Post. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Tournament officials released a statement on Sunday: “It was deemed that the fish was mutilated before it was landed or boated and therefore it was disqualified.“
The International Game Fish Association says a fish is ineligible to win if is suffers damage “prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh.”
As a result, the tournament title and $2.77 million first prize went to the boat Sushi, which reeled in a marlin weighing 484.5 pounds.