Mahi-Mahi: Description, Habitat, & Fun Facts

Mahi-Mahi Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Carangiformes
  • Family: Coryphaenidae
  • Genus: Coryphaena
  • Species: C. hippurus

Mahi-Mahi Basics

The Mahi-mahi is commonly known as Dorado or the common dolphinfish. It belongs to the family Coryphaenidae and is a medium-sized epipelagic is distributed in the tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions of all around the world including the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

Mahi-Mahi Description

The appearance of Mahi-mahi is distinct from other species. They have a long, tall, and narrow-body with a blunt head and mouth. The normal weight of the mahi-mahi is around 30 pounds and its length is 1 meter.

They have unique spectacular coloring with golden-yellow colored flanks and iridescent blue pectoral fins. They consist large, sail-like dorsal fin and a relatively large tail fin.

Mahi-Mahi Distribution & Habitat

The distribution of Mahi-mahi is worldwide. They are found especially in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters of Hawaii, Central America, and also in the Indian Ocean.

They spend most of their time near the surface or offshore. Although they are a great diver and dive nearly 1,000 feet deep, but found in the 100 feet nearest to the surface.

Mahi-Mahi Diet & Predators

Mahi-mahi feeds on small fish and also hunt cephalopods such as squid and cattlefish, and various crustaceans. Thus, they are predatory organisms and capture prey with their largemouth. The juvenile Mahi-mahi also feed on zooplankton, and some floating animals in the oceans.

However, Mahi-mahi also acts as prey for various marine predators such as large tuna species. For example, the yellowfin tuna and Bluefin tuna hunt any fish in a particular size range including young mahi-mahi.

Dolphins, orca, and the false killer whale also feed on mahi-mahi. Some other marine animals also prey on the mahi-mahi on getting the opportunity such as sea lions, seals, and pelagic shark species.

Mahi-Mahi Reproduction and Life Cycle

The species grow very fast and reach sexual maturity in the first year of life. Usually, they have two or three spawning seasons per year, in which the female produce around 80,000 to 1,000,000 eggs in each spawning season.

However, they do not produce all the eggs at the time but release thousands of eggs every few days until they are spent. External fertilization occurs in water where male also release their sperms and after fertilization, embryo formation takes place.

The embryo hatches within a few days and releases a larval fish which becomes a part of the zooplankton community. Juvenile mahi-mahi does not rely on food and starts hunting their prey. They spend their first phase of life in Sargassum spp.

And other algal species to hide from larger fish and strong currents of the ocean. The lifespan of mahi-mahi is also short, they live for around 5 years maximum but most of the individuals do not live for this age.

Mahi-Mahi Conservation Status

Mahi-mahi is now popular among fisheries but traditionally it was treated as bycatch in other species. Their fast ability and large production rate make them strong and sustainable. Therefore, the IUCN Red List of threatened species listed mahi-mahi as the least concern.

Fun Facts About Mahi-Mahi

At present, mahi-mahi is a highly popular gaming fish and commercially fishery target. It is also large, powerful, and unique due to some interesting facts and insights about the species.

Mahi-Mahi is a Fastest Growing Fish

The species is relatively fast-growing as compare to other species and reach sexual maturity at the age of 5-6 months. They can grow up to 2.7 inches per week and become adults within one year. Similarly, the rabbit also has a very fast growth rate.

They have usually three spawning years per year, which females produce tens of thousands of eggs each time. Therefore, mahi-mahi is also known as the ‘rabbit of the sea’. However, their fast growth increases their rate of survival but also causes some side effects for humans, for whom the popularity of mahi-mahi continuous to increase. Their fast growth and high level of fecundity make them one of the currently fished sustainable fishes.

On the Fly

Mahi-mahi feeds on almost all kinds of marine species, especially in smaller fish. The species of mahi-mahi can prey on a fish that knows to fly. However, it does not fly but skims across the water in a series of shallow-trajectory jumps. Thus, mahi-mahi has adaptations to hunt flying fish, which is an interesting fact about it. The flying fish makes up about 25% of the mahi-mahi diet, which describes that it is so well adapted in this.

Mahi-Mahi is Not a Dolphin

Sometimes, the common names of organisms also create confusion among people. For example, the mahi-mahi has various common names including ‘mahi-mahi’, which is derived from the Hawaiian language. In many parts of Mexico and Central America, it is known as ‘dorado’ which means golden in Spanish.

Salminen baselines are also known with a similar common name in parts of Central America, but there is not even any evolutionary relationship between these species. The mahi-mahi is also known as the “common dolphinfish” and is historically referred to as a dolphin.

It is difficult to see why they have provided this name historically because dolphins are marine mammals. Several theories are also there to describe the origin of the term dolphin or dolphinfish for members of the genus of Coryphaena, but it still remains unclear.

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