Crowds have been lining up at Big Rock Landing all week waiting for fishermen to bring in their catch of the day. 

It’s part of the 61st Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. Wolverine is in the lead as of Thursday evening reeling in a 588 lb. blue marlin. 

But after they’ve been caught, the fish are hoisted to the scales by weigh masters. The animals are then loaded to a truck and sent to nearby research institutions to be analyzed. 

One the institutions includes North Carolina State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology in Morehead City. 

Dr. Jeff Buckel, a professor at the school says more than 130 blue marlin have been studied at the school since 1988.

So far this year, nine blue marlin, 73 dolphin, and two wahoo have been brought to the lab. 

Dr. Buckel’s team studies the diet of the fishes to compare what the species are eating and if there are any changes in their eating habits. 

His findings show the blue marlin, dolphin and wahoo diets are similar through time.

Dr. Buckel says blue marlin are a rare species to study. 

Through their findings they’ve also learned frigid and bullet mackerel species are important food sources for dolphin and wahoo fish. 

“That’s a result of our work as well as others along the east coast that have found those two prey species to be important food for these animals,” said Buckel.

Other institutions like Duke University and University of North Carolina have also taken part in research. 

Dolphin, wahoo and tuna fish are considered game fish. The animals are returned to the fishermen after being sampled by researchers.