Dorado

Dorado

Other Names

Dolphinfish, mahi-mahi.


Appearance

Turquoise, green, and yellow patterns; 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.

Maximum Size

The largest dolphinfish length reported is almost 7 feet (2.1 m); the maximum weight reported is 88 pounds (40 kg).

Growth Rate

Growth is extremely rapid. Specific rates vary among regions and are sensitive to water temperatures.

Geographic Range

In tropical and subtropical waters of all oceans.


Habitat

Oceanic pelagic fish; generally restricted to waters warmer than 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20º C).

Life Span

Short, maximum is 5 years; males live longer than females.

Food

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Dolphinfish are voracious predators and feed in surface water during the day. They eat a wide variety of species including small pelagic species (living in the water column) such as flying fish, half beaks, man-o-war fish, Sargassum fish, and rough triggerfish, juveniles of large pelagic species (tunas, billfish, jacks, and dolphin), and pelagic larvae of nearshore,bottom-living species (flying gurnards, triggerfish, pufferfish, and grunts). Dolphinfish also eat invertebrates such as cephalopods (octopus, squid, etc.), mysids (small, shrimp-like creatures), and scyphozoans (jellyfish), which suggests they are essentially non-selective, opportunistic foragers.


Reaches Reproductive Maturity

Dolphinfish reach maturity at 4 to 5 months.

Reproduction

Dolphinfish are prolific spawners, reproducing repeatedly. Recent research suggests that they may spawn every 2 to 3 days for the duration of the entire spawning season, perhaps even year round. Females may have 33,000 to 66,000 eggs per spawning event.

Spawning Season

Spawning is thought to occur year round in waters with temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9º C), but peaks vary with latitude. For example, in the Florida current, spawning occurs from November through July and during June and July in the Gulf Stream near North Carolina. Off southern California and Mexico, peak spawning occurs from August to September.

Spawning Grounds

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In the central North Pacific, dolphinfish appear to spawn in waters less than 50 nautical miles (92.6 km) from islands and banks. Off the continents, they appear to spawn on the continental shelf. There does not seem to be any spawning in the open ocean in the Pacific. In the Atlantic spawning occurs under Sargassum patches.

Migrations

Young dolphinfish school, but older individuals are more solitary. Adults make seasonal north-south migrations.

Predators

Predators include large tuna, rough toothed dolphin, marlin, sailfish, and swordfish (particularly preying on juveniles).

Information courtesy of NOAA.

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