Dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus
The Dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus, whose Spanish common name is dorado, is a species in the family Corphaenidae, the Dolphinfishes, known collectively as dorados in Mexico. Globally, there are only two species in the genus Coryphaena, both of which are found in Mexican waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific.
The Dolphinfish has an elongated compressed body with a maximum depth that is less than 25% of standard length. They are a brilliant metallic blue-green dorsally shading to a golden yellow ventrally with scattered iridescent blue green spots covering the head and body. These striking colors quickly fade to a uniform silver color upon death. The anal, caudal and pelvic fins are yellow; the dorsal fin is blue-green. Juveniles are golden with twelve dark bars on the sides; the caudal fin has white tips and the pelvic fins are black. Adults are sexually dimorphic with males have a bony crest on the forehead and a near vertical front snout profile. Females have rounded heads. They have large mouths with numerous small teeth in bands on the jaws and a patch of teeth of small oval teeth on the tongue. The anal fin has a long base with twenty five to thirty one rays with a concave anterior outer edge extending nearly to the caudal fin. The dorsal fin has a long base with fifty five to sixty five rays extending from the nape to almost the caudal fin. The anal and dorsal fins do not have spines or isolated finlets toward the caudal fin. The caudal fin is deeply forked; the pectoral fins are greater than 50% of the head length; and. the pelvic fins are short. The lateral line is sharply arched over the pectoral fins. They are covered with small smooth scales.
The Dolphinfish are an oceanic pelagic species, preferring water temperatures between 21oC and 30oC, that frequent inshore waters as voracious predators in search of smaller fish focusing on flyingflish, herrings, jacks, mackerels, mullets, small tunas and squid. In turn they preyed upon by various marlin, sailfish, sharks, swordfish, tuna and sea birds. They are known to congregate under floating objects. They are found predominantly on the surface but also to depths up to 255 meters (840 feet). They reach a maximum length of 230 cm (83 inches) and 39.6 kg (87 pounds; the current IFGA angling record caught in Costa Rican waters in 1976). A Dorado Weight from Length Conversion Table has been included in this website to allow the accurate determination of fish weight from length so these fish can be returned to the ocean unharmed (strongly recommended). Reproduction is oviparous and occurs year round in open waters with each female releasing 58,000 to 1.5 million eggs two or three times a year. The Dolphinfish is an exceedingly fast growing species with a life span of only four years.
The Dolphinfish is a fairly easy fish to identify due to the coloration and body shape, however, it is similar to the Pompano Dolphinfish, Coryphaena equselis (body depth greater than 25% of standard length; pectoral fins less than one-half the length of the head).
The Dolphinfish are one of the major tropical sportsfish of North America. They are routinely caught by recreational anglers on rapidly trolled jigs near the surface or on live flylinned sardines. Smaller fish travel in schools of up to fifty individuals and if you catch one you can normally catch several. They are inquisitive party animals and will follow hooked comrades to the boat where they too can be caught. Larger Dolphinfish travel as individuals or in pairs. They are considered to an excellent food fish for human consumption and a target of commercial fishermen who utilize long-lines, purse seine. They are caught globally at a level of 60,000 tons per annum with notable declines recently in the Eastern Pacific. They are sold fresh or frozen with an increasing demand and sold at elevated prices. When sold commerically they are most likely to be called by their Hawaiian name Mahi-Mahi.They have fairly recently been the subject of a series of new conservation measures. In Mexico there are new commercial regulations with area closures and a ban on the use purse seines and for recreational anglers the recent implementation of a two fish per day limit. Note: a small Dolphinfish caught on lightweight tackle on a flylinned sardine is perhaps one, due to aerial acrobatics, of the most exciting experiences in all of sportsfishing.