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Mahi Mahi

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Mahi Mahi Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Perciformes Family: Coryphaenidae Genus: Coryphaena Species: C. hippurus Binomial name Coryphaena hippurus Linnaeus, 1758

The mahi-mahi (in Hawaiian)[1] (Coryphaena hippurus) also known as dolphin-fish or rakingo, calitos, maverikos, or lampuka (in Maltese) are surface-dwelling ray-finned fish found in off-shore temperate, tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. They are one of only two members of the Coryphaenidae family, the other being the Pompano dolphinfish.



Although its common name is ``dolphin-fish``, the mahi-mahi is a fish not a dolphin, and is not at all related to the Delphinidae family of mammals whose common name is simply dolphin. The English language adopted the Hawaiian word, mahi-mahi without formalizing its spelling. The American Heritage Dictionary, fourth edition, cites the preferred spelling (occurring “more frequently”) as the hyphenated mahi-mahi. The secondary spelling is the single word, mahimahi, with the identical Hawaiian word given as the derivative source. But Webster’s Unabridged, second edition, reverses this preference order, preferring the single word to the hyphenated version, as does the Oxford English Dictionary (2000 draft entry).

Linnaeus named the genus, derived from the Greek word, koryphe, meaning top or apex, in 1758. Synonyms for the species include Coryphaena argyrurus, Coryphaena chrysurus and Coryphaena dolfyn. [2]

Mahi-mahi live 4 to 5 years. Catches average 7 to 13 kilograms (15 to 29 lb). They seldom exceed 15 kilograms (33 lb), and any mahi-mahi over 18 kilograms (40 lb) is exceptional.

Mahi-mahi have compressed bodies and long dorsal fins extending nearly the entire length of their bodies. Their anal fins are sharply concave. They are distinguished by dazzling colors: golden on the sides, bright blues and greens on the sides and back. Mature males have prominent foreheads protruding well above the body proper. Females have a rounded head. Females are also usually smaller than males.

Out of the water, the fish often change color among several hues (giving rise to their Spanish name, Dorado Maverikos, ``Golden Maverick``), finally fading to a muted yellow-grey upon death.

Mahi-mahi are among the fastest-growing fish. They spawn in warm ocean currents throughout much of the year, and their young are commonly found in seaweed.

Mahi-mahi are carnivorous, feeding on flying fish, crabs, squid, mackerel, and other forage fish. They have also been known to eat zooplankton and crustaceans.

The mahi–mahi's taste resembles other whitefish such as flounder, and tilapia.

Recreational fishing

Female mahi-mahi caught in Mauritius Bull (male) mahi-mahi caught in the Florida Keys Mahi-mahi caught in Costa Rica Main article: Mahi-mahi fishing

Mahi-mahi are highly sought for sport fishing and commercial purposes. Sport fishermen seek mahi-mahi due to their beauty, size, food quality, and healthy population. Mahi-mahi are popular in many restaurants.

Mahi-mahi can be found in the Caribbean Sea, on the west coast of North and South America, the pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Florida, Southeast Asia, Hawaiʻi and many other places worldwide.

Fishing charters most often look for floating debris and frigatebird near the edge of the reef in about 120 feet (37 m) of water. Mahi-mahi (and many other fish) often swim near debris such as floating wood, palm trees and fronds, or Sargasso weed lines and around fish buoys. Sargasso is floating seaweed that sometimes holds a complete ecosystem from microscopic creatures to seahorses and baitfish. Frigate birds dive for food accompanying the debris or Sargasso. Experienced fishing guides can tell what species are likely around the debris by the birds' behavior.

Thirty- to 50-pound gear is more than adequate for trolling for mahi-mahi. Fly-casters may especially seek frigatebirds to find big mahi-mahis and then use a bait-and-switch technique. Ballyhoo or a net full of live sardines tossed into the water can excite the mahi-mahis into a feeding frenzy. Hookless teaser lures can have the same effect. After tossing the teasers or live chum, fishermen throw the fly to the feeding Once on a line, mahi-mahi are fast, flashy and acrobatic, with beautiful blue, yellow, green and even red dots of color.

Commercial fishing

The United States and the Caribbean countries are the primary consumers, but many European countries are increasing their consumption every year.

Mahi Mahi is also a popular eating fish in Australia. Mahi-mahi is usually caught and sold as a by-product by tuna and swordfish commercial fishing operators.

Japan and Hawaii are significant consumers. The Arabian Sea, particularly the coast of Oman, also has mahi-mahi. At first, mahi-mahi were most bycatch (incidental catch) in the tuna/swordfish longline fishery. Now they are sought by commercial fishermen on their own merits.

In French Polynesia, fishermen use harpoons, using a specifically designed boat, the poti marara, to pursue it, because mahi-mahi does not dive. The poti marara is a powerful motorized V-shaped boat, optimized for high agility and speed, and driven with a stick so that the pilot can hold his harpoon with his right hand.

Environmental and food safety concerns

The Monterey Bay Aquarium classifies mahi-mahi, when caught in the US, as a ``Good Alternative``, the middle of its three environmental impact categories. The Aquarium advises to ``Avoid`` imported mahi-mahi.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) classifies mahi-mahi as a ``moderate mercury`` fish or shellfish (its second lowest of four categories), and suggests eating six servings or less per month.[3]

The mahi-mahi is also a common vector for ciguatera poisoning.[4]

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) classifies mahi-mahi caught by line/pole in the US as ``Eco-Best`` in its three-category system,[5] but classifies all mahi-mahi caught by longline as only ``Eco-OK`` or ``Eco-Worst`` due to longline ``high levels [of] bycatch, injuring or killing seabirds, sea turtles and sharks.`` [6]


^ ``mahi.mahi``. Hawaiian Dictionaries. Ulukau: The Hawaiian Electronic Libraries.  ^ ``FishBase Coryphaena hippurus``. Retrieved August 2009.  ^ ``Consumer Guide to Mercury in Fish``.  ^ ``Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP)``. Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. Retrieved 2010-01-04.  ^ ``Seafood Selector: Find a Fish``.  ^ ``Mahimahi, imported longline, Eco-Worst``. 

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Coryphaena hippurus Wikispecies has information related to: Coryphaena hippurus Coryphaena hippurus (TSN 168791). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved on 11 March 2006. ``Coryphaena hippurus``. FishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly. October 2004 version. N.p.: FishBase, 2004. Monterey Bay Aquarium's Regional Seafood Watch Cards Blue Ocean Institutes's Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood Mahimahi Photographs, Jens Kuhfs Photography