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The mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) is a surface-dwelling ray-finned fish that forms school in off-shore temperate, tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. It is also known as the dorado, common dolphinfish or just dolphin, a name that causes come confusion, as this fish is not related to the marine mammal dolphin. Coryphaena hippurus and the slightly smaller pompano dolphinfish (C. equiselis) are the only two taxa in the family Coryphaenidae family. Mahi-Mahi live up to 7 years and are among the world’s fastest growing fish, reaching up to 15 kg. Their carnivorous diet includes invertebrates and fish, and sometimes zooplankton. A popular sport fish, they are also widely eaten and, when not caught by long-line, are classified by several agencies as a environmentally-healthy eating fish, including the Monterey Aquarium and the Environmental Defense Fund.
Azores, Azores Exclusive Economic Zone, Chagos, Comores, Djibouti, European waters (ERMS scope), Greek Exclusive Economic Zone, Gulf of Maine, Gulf of Mexico, Israeli Exclusive Economic Zone [Mediterranean part], Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone, North Pacific, North West Atlantic, Portugese Exclusive Economic Zone, Reunion, Rodriguez, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa (country), Spanish Exclusive Economic Zone, Tanzania
This species is widespread in tropical and temperate waters and occurs in the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean, though it is most common in waters between 21–30°C.
Habitat and Ecology
Schools of Coryphaena hippurus can be found in open waters and near coastal areas. This species is found to a depth of 85 m. Its diet consists of smaller fishes, zooplankton, crustaceans, and squid.
This species is fast-growing, and matures relatively early. Maximum size is 200 cm, but more commonly is found to 100 cm.The all-tackle game fish record is of a 39.46 kg fish caught in Papagallo Gulf, Costa Rica in 1976 (IGFA 2011). Longevity can reach four years but is usually less than two years (Oxenford and Hunt 1983, Oxenford 1999, Lessa et al. 2008). Age at first maturity is three to four months in the Gulf of Mexico, four months in the Caribbean (Oxenford 1999), six to seven months in the northeastern North Atlantic, and four months in northeast Brazil (Lessa et al. 2008). Off North Carolina, males reach 50% maturity at 476 mm, 100% at 645 mm; females reach 50% maturity at 458 mm, 100% at 560 mm (Gibbs and Collette 1959, Oxenford 1999, Ditty 2005, Schwenke and Buckel 2008). In the eastern Caribbean, males reach 50% maturity at 91 cm fork length (FL) (four to five months old) and females at 83.5 cm FL (four to five months old) (Oxenford 1999). In Puerto Rico, 50% maturity is reached at 45 cm FL (greater than 7 months old) (Perez and Sadovy 1991).
Spawning is probably year-round at water temperatures greater than 21°C, and spawning occurs in the open water when water temperature rises. In temperate areas such as North Carolina, peak spawning occurs from April through July. In East African waters, spawning season may last from March to early June and spawning occurs inshore. In tropical regions spawning likely occurs year round. Batch spawning occurs at least two or three times per spawning period. Batch fecundity estimates in the west central Atlantic range from 58,000 to 1.5 million eggs and are strongly influenced by size (Gibbs and Collette 1959, Ditty 2005, Schwenke and Buckel 2008, Oxenford 1999). In southern Brazil, spawning occurs from November to February, at least between 20–28°S (Amorim, pers. comm. 2010).
Coryphaena hippurus is harvested throughout its circumglobal range. It can be locally abundant, is fast-growing, early maturing and short-lived. There are some localized declines in catch that may be related to overfishing. However, there is no indication that this species is undergoing significant population declines. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.
There are no major threats known to this species. However, it is of high commercial value, with a global catch of 58,076 t in 2005, and is extensively harvested throughout its range (FAO-FIGIS 2005). There have been observed declines in catch in the Eastern Pacific, but this is thought to be a consequence of higher catches during El Niño events.
This species is caught in various types of fishing gear, including longlines, purse seine vessels, and recreational fishing vessels (Palko et al. 1982). It is one of the most important species in artisanal fisheries around the world.
In the Mediterranean, this species is caught in association with fish attracting devices (FADS), trolling line and sport fisheries. These attracting devices such as floating bundles of bamboo reeds or cork planks are used to concentrate Dolphinfish before nets are set. The use of FADS are increasing the bycatch of this species (Nelson pers. comm. 2010). Small quantities are taken as bycatch in longline and driftnet fisheries.
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) recognizes that the lack of any institutional framework or regional body for collaborative or shared management of this resource is a concern given the increasing catches of this species in the region (CRFM 2006).
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