Striped marlin

Image Credit: Joel Vandekrol


Costa Pioneers Billfish Research Tagging Mission Completed on Fly

Focused on conservation and driven by its community-based ethos, Costa Sunglasses is announcing the Marlin Fly Project, the first recorded billfish research mission solely using fly tackle. In partnership with the locals of San Carlos, Mexico, The Billfish Foundation and International Game Fish Association, the Marlin Fly Project team successfully deployed 15 satellite tags in two days to better understand and protect this understudied billfish species.

The project, which took place in southwestern Baja, Mexico, in December 2022, stands as the ultimate culmination of community and conservation. Led by Costa, it brought together Costa pros (professional anglers and fishing guides), leading billfish scientists, conservation organizations, and community partners to pursue this mission in tandem with local captains, guides, and the San Carlos community.

“The epic fishing tales coming out of Magdalena ‘Mag’ Bay alone attracted us to the region in 2021, but what we found there was an authentic community, rich with culture, built alongside an untamed ecosystem,” said Jed Larkin, brand director for Costa Sunglasses. “That trip sparked a trailblazing idea — what if we brought our global community of scientists, partners, and pros together with the local community of San Carlos to research and protect this special resource? And that’s how Marlin Fly was born. Rooted in both community and conservation, this project is everything we stand for as a brand.”

An 8-minute documentary on the Marlin Fly Project can be seen here

“There’s no place on earth with an ecosystem quite like Mag Bay. Every year anglers from around the world travel to this unique destination to experience one of the most incredible billfish fisheries on the planet,” said Dr. Bruce Pohlot, IGFA conservation director. “But the reality is, there has not been a lot of scientific research done on this population of striped marlin in the Eastern Pacific. That’s why the IGFA was happy to jump on board with our longtime partners at Costa when they started asking questions about what can be done to protect this magnificent resource.”

Of the 15 short- and long-term satellite tags that were deployed during the project, Costa resourced three tags to support IGFA’s Great Marlin Race, and seven were donated by TBF. The tags will track post-release survivability, migrational patterns, swimming depth, and water temperature. An additional 20 spaghetti tags were deployed, which will provide important ongoing recapture data. The discoveries from Costa’s Marlin Fly Project will help fill crucial data gaps and aid in global and local efforts to conserve this highly migratory species. 

Scientists from The Billfish Foundation, International Game Fish Association, and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Fisheries Research & Development, vetted all landed fish to make sure they were viable candidates prior to tagging. All landed and tagged fish were healthy and swam off strong.  

“Through this collaboration, Costa’s Marlin Fly Project is set to collect unparalleled data about striped marlin that will help play a pivotal role in supporting conservation and enhancing fisheries management efforts,” said Peter Chaibongsai, director of conservation programs at The Billfish Foundation. “We’re honored to be a part of such a unique project that puts community at the forefront. The strong bond forged with the locals not only enables them, but also fosters a sense of advocacy. This ensures that the project’s impact extends far beyond scientific research — it creates a network of passionate advocates dedicated to conserving this resource for years to come.”

Costa has spent the past four decades carrying out its “higher calling” to protect the waters we love, connect those who come to life on the water, and to conserve the life within. The Marlin Fly Project is an extension of that commitment. In addition to the history-making, field-science study, the project served the local community through the following initiatives. 

  • Community-first nonprofit and original Costa-born project, Indifly, joined the mission to meet with the community of San Carlos and assess a potential social impact project. Inspired by both the people and operation, Indifly plans to collaborate with San Carlos, the Marlin Fly Project, and Los Locos to innovate ways for this vital community to write its own future.
  • Costa partnered with Los Locos Mag Bay, a unique fly-fishing operation that employs and works directly with the locals of San Carlos, Mexico, to support this one-of-a-kind community through angling tourism.
  • Building on Costa’s One Coast initiative for emergency preparedness, partner Finns West outfitted the Los Locos operation and guideboats with safety equipment and medical training.
  • Costa partnered with Travel Creel, who hosted cooking classes in the community, and sourced produce, meats, and seafood from local fishermen and farmers to prepare dinners each night to feed the crew.
  • The Marlin Fly team participated in organized clean-ups along San Carlos’ coastline, and on the final night hosted local guide families for a celebration, in gratitude for their hospitality and guidance.

The Marlin Fly Project will continue its mission to create advocates for the striped marlin fishery, both locally and globally, by fostering dynamic relationships and supporting this ecosystem and the people who depend on it.

In honor of its 40th anniversary, Costa Sunglasses will release its Second Edition: Protect Purpose report next month. Led by the success of the Marlin Fly Project, the Protect report highlights Costa’s commitment to conservation, community, and sustainability in 2021-2022.

For more information on Costa’s ongoing work to “protect what’s out there,” as well as its complete collection of award-winning performance, optical, and lifestyle frames, visit