Dolphin (Mahi Mahi, Dolphinfish, Dorado)
Mahimahi live near the surface in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Young
mahimahi swim together in schools, but older fish are usually found alone. Larger males prefer
open ocean habitat while females and smaller males are commonly found near natural and
artificial floating objects, including a floating brown algae called Sargassum (in the Atlantic).
Mahimahi grow fast, up to almost 7 feet and 88 pounds, and live a short time, up to 5 years. They’
re a very productive fish. They’re able to reproduce early in life, at 4 to 5 months old, and scientists
believe mahimahi spawn every 2 to 3 days throughout their entire spawning season, perhaps even
year-round. Females release between 33,000 and 66,000 eggs each time they spawn. In the
Atlantic, they spawn under patches of Sargassum.
Mahimahi are top predators and only have a few predators themselves. They feed in surface water
during the day and eat a wide variety of species, including small pelagic fish, juvenile tuna, billfish,
jacks, and pompano, and pelagic larvae of nearshore, bottom-living species. They also eat
invertebrates such as cephalopods (octopus, squid, etc.), mysids (small, shrimp-like creatures),
and jellyfish. Large tuna, rough-toothed dolphin, marlin, sailfish, and swordfish feed on mahimahi,
Mahimahi is a brightly colored fish – the back is an electric greenish blue, the lower body is gold or
sparkling silver, and the sides have a mixture of dark and light spots. Their bright pattern fades
almost immediately after they’re harvested. Mahimahi can be distinguished from the pompano
dolphin by its 55 to 66 dorsal fin rays and a very wide, square tooth patch on the tongue.
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