Sunday was supposed to be a typical day at the beach for Tyler Bralley and his friends until they noticed a crowd gathering near the water.
"[We] saw about 30 people around a fish, wondered what it was so we ran over," Bralley recalls.
What the fisherman and his buddies saw was something they never expected to see on shore -- a massive blue marlin.
Bralley explains, "Forty miles is the closest you usually catch one...but being that close in is just unusual."
After Tyler and his friends made that unusual discovery, they loaded up the marlin in the back of a truck and brought it to Fisherman's Wharf. That's where the real work began to figure out how it washed up in the first place.
Kesley Gibson also happened to be at the fishing charter business that day. She's a PhD candidate at the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation Center, which is part of the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
She tells KRIS 6 News, "I was up here collecting kingfish for another project when Tyler pulled up in the truck, came running around the corner, and goes, 'I got a marlin for you.' I didn't really believe him at first but, lo and behold, he had a marlin in the back of his truck."
The reason for her initial disbelief is because marlin typically don't come toward the coast.
Describing the characteristics of blue marlin, Gibson says, "They like deeper water. They can dive deep and they make large migrations. They're very important to our ecosystem. They're apex predators. They keep the ecosystem in balance. They exhibit something called top-down control so they keep everything below it -- smaller fish, snapper...those populations in control.""
Gibson says this single rare event wouldn't indicate anything is out of balance in our waters. But, after performing a necropsy, she doesn't believe a person had anything to do with it either.
"We expected to find it gut-hooked and there was no hook."
While there may never be answers about how the blue marlin ended up on the beach, Tyler Bralling and his friends have plenty of memories of their unforgettable day at the beach.
"We painted the whole body, put the canvas over it, got some nice pictures of it//it's just wild. We just never thought we would ever see that in our life. you know, it's one out of a million," he says.
Researchers say any test results from samples of the marlin would likely be skewed because the fish sat for a while before the necropsy was performed. For now, they only plan to use parts of the fish for classes and other projects at the university.
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