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Peter Silcock, historian for the Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fishing Club, visited the Australian Museum to look at a Black Marlin, Istiompax indica, skeleton (AMS I.38913-001) in the Skeletons gallery.

Marlin skeleton
Marlin skeleton in the Skeleton Gallery Image: James King
© Australian Museum

Combined with checks of the Museum database and old registers, his visit, with Mark McGrouther (the Fish Collection Manager), confirmed that the skeleton was indeed the specimen collected by Sydney doctor Mark Lidwill off Port Stephens in February 1913. When caught, it was originally thought to be a swordfish or spearfish, so was sent to the Museum aboard the steamer Karuah.

Dick Waterson with Black Marlin
Dr Lidwill's boatman Dick Waterson with the Black Marlin, Port Stephens, New South Wales, February 1913. Image: A Littlemore
© A. Littlemore

The final piece of evidence is that the fish was recorded to have been hooked through the tongue and did not put up much of a struggle. Indeed the tongue of the skeleton at the Museum shows evidence of hook damage.

We can now confirm Peter's suspicions about the "celebrity status" of the skeleton.


  1. Australian Museum Donor Schedule dated 15 February 1913.
  2. Hittmann, B. 1939. Editorial. The N.S.W. Rod Fishers Society's Gazette. 7(4).
  3. Kelly, P. 1998. Riddle of 1913 catch solved. Port Stephens Examiner. Wednesday August 19, 1998, p3.
  4. McIntyre, J. 2002. The first marlin. Blue Water. Trader International Group: 66-69.
  5. Silcock, P. 1998. Where it all began. Jaws. Newcastle and Port Stephens Gamefish Club Ltd. Sept. 1998: 12-13.