What is a dolphin fish look like

What Is a Dolphin Fish? 11 Fun Fish Facts

What is a dolphin fish look like

A dolphin fish, also known as mahi-mahi, is a constant in tropical waters and, dare we say it, on seafood menus. While the dolphin fish is not actually a dolphin, it is a large, strong, fish that has a dorsal fin, which may inspire some comparisons to dolphins. The dolphin fish, like dolphins, are predators, and mainly roam the seas in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Hawaii. The dolphin fish is a brightly colored, vibrant fish that is an important part of ocean ecosystems.

What Is a Dolphin Fish/Mahi-Mahi?

There are actually two species of dolphin fish: the common dolphin fish, scientific name Coryphaena hippurus, and the pompano dolphin fish, Coryphaena equiselis. The two species are very similar, but the pompano dolphin fish is a bit smaller. Both are referred to as mahi-mahi. For the sake of this article, we’ll be focusing on the common dolphin fish.

Physical Description

Dolphin fish are a large species of fish that have a single dorsal fin that extends from the head to the tail. Males’ heads are rounded to the point where they protrude out. Females’ heads are rounded and smooth. The dolphin fish is also a vibrant, brightly colored fish that is golden on the sides and brightly colored blue and green on its sides and back. Mahi mahi fish grow to be 2.5-4.5 feet long, and catches have been recorded from 15 pounds to over 40 pounds.


Dolphin fish are found in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans in tropical and subtropical waters. They dwell in temperatures that are at least 90 degrees, usually on or near the equator. While mahi mahi fish are most common in and prefer tropical waters, they can also be found in cooler waters as far north as Massachusetts.

Dolphin fish stay near the surface of the water, and close to the shore. They can usually be found in depths up to 250 feet. Dolphin fish are especially prominent in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, where a majority of fishing takes place. The dolphin fish is also found in large numbers off the coast of Hawaii.

Life Cycle

Dolphin fish reproduce at a rapid rate. They are sometimes jokingly referred to as “the rabbits of the ocean” Dolphin fish reach maturity at 4-5 months old, and should definitely be fully mature by the time they’re a year old.

Female dolphin fish can lay 100,000-1,000,000 eggs at a time and can lay eggs 2-3 times per year. Dolphin fish don’t have strict migratory patterns. They usually swim north as waters warm, and populations in those northern areas peak around July.

The fish can live up to five years, but it’s rare for them to exceed four, and the average lifespan is estimated to be 2-3 years. They’re usually caught by fishermen or predators.

What is a dolphin fish look like

How Is a Dolphin Fish Different From a Dolphin?

Despite the name, dolphin fish and dolphins have virtually nothing in common, other than that they both swim. Is a dolphin a fish? No! The dolphin is a mammal, which is warm blooded, and has live births. The dolphin fish is a fish. Both animals do have a dorsal fin; the dolphin fish’s dorsal fin runs along most of its body, while the dolphin’s dorsal fin is in the center of its back.

It’s likely that the misnomer for the dolphin fish came from the old scientific naming and classification system. Previously, the dolphin fish was categorized in the “Dolfyn” family, instead of the Coryphaena family. The bottlenose dolphin is in the family Delphinidae. As you can see, the dolphin fish and dolphin are not in the same scientific family, or genus, which demonstrates their lack of relationship with one another.

Fishing and Conservation

The dolphin fish is sometimes called “a gift for fisherman” because they are near the coast, close to the surface, and the fish usually yields a lot of meat. The mahi mahi fish is not considered endangered, and is cited as an environmentally-friendly fish for consumption. Due to their rapid reproduction rate, the dolphin fish replaces its population quickly,

Though the dolphin fish is not in immediate danger of extinction or significant population decrease, like all ocean dwelling creatures, issues associated with climate change could impact the fish.

What is a dolphin fish look like

11 Dolphin Fish Fun Facts

The dolphin fish is a very fast swimmer, reaching speeds of up to 60 mph.

The name “mahi-mahi” literally means “strong strong” in Polynesian. The name originates from Hawaii, where the fish are prevalent

The fish is also called “dorado” in Spanish, a name that stems from its golden color.

Dolphin fish lose their golden hues once they leave the water, and eventually turn a silvery color

Dolphin fish eat crab, squid and other crustaceans, as well as on other fish, like mackerel.

Outside of the Caribbean, the United States is the largest consumer of dolphin fish

Dolphin fish do not raise their young. Once the eggs hatch, the young dolphinfish quickly band together in schools to help ensure survival.

The young fish, and smaller dolphin fish, travel in schools of anywhere from a handful of fish to up to fifty fish. Larger fish travel alone, or sometimes in pairs.

The main predators of dolphin fish are sharks, swordfish, marlins, birds, and of course, humans.

Dolphin fish are very strong, and are known for being difficult to catch on fishing lines.

The largest dolphin fish ever recorded was found on September 25th, 1976, weighing about 87 pounds.

What’s Next?

Interested in earth and animal science? Read up on the photosynthesis equation and animal cells.

For more about science and biology, check out cell theory, the 4 phases of mitosis, and meioses vs. mitosis.

If you’re studying for AP test, don’t miss our Expert’s Guide to the AP Environmental Science Exam and the Expert’s Guide to the AP Biology Exam.

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Carrie holds a Bachelors in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, and is currently pursuing an MFA. She worked in book publishing for several years, and believes that books can open up new worlds. She loves reading, the outdoors, and learning about new things.

What is a dolphin fish look like

Credit: Dolphin Ecology Project – Under Authority of NOAA Fisheries Permit #911-1722-00

E ven though they live in the ocean all of the time, dolphins are mammals, not fish. Also, dolphins are different than “dolphinfish,” which are also known as mahi-mahi.

Like every mammal, dolphins are warm blooded. Unlike fish, who breathe through gills, dolphins breathe air using lungs. Dolphins must make frequent trips to the surface of the water to catch a breath. The blowhole on top of a dolphin’s head acts as a “nose,” making it easy for the dolphin to surface for air.

Other characteristics of dolphins that make them mammals rather than fish are that they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs and they feed their young with milk. Also, like all mammals, dolphins even have a tiny amount of hair, right around the blowhole.

Whales and porpoises are also mammals. There are 75 species of dolphins, whales, and porpoises living in the ocean. They are the only mammals, other than manatees, that spend their entire lives in the water.

An area of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is home to a resident group of bottlenose dolphins. Many businesses conduct dolphin tours in this area, which can stress the dolphins. To help reduce disruption to dolphins in the sanctuary, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Marine Fisheries Service, the Dolphin Ecology Project, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society created the Dolphin SMART program. This program recognizes businesses that promote responsible viewing of wild dolphins.

What is a dolphin fish look like

The dolphin fish is not a dolphin. Unlike dolphins, which are mammals, dolphin fish are a type of ray-finned fish. The dolphin fish most likely got its confusing common name because it was previously classified in the genus Dolfyn. It also has a melon-shaped head, much like that of a true dolphin. In the modern classification system, the fish belongs to the genus Coryphaena.

If a restaurant menu includes “dolphin,” it’s referring to the dolphin fish, not the mammal. Some restaurants use the alternative names mahi-mahi and pompano to prevent confusion.

Fast Facts: Dolphin Fish

  • Scientific Name: Coryphaena hippurus (common dolphin fish); Coryphaena equiselis (pompano dolphin fish)
  • Other Names: Dolphinfish, dolphin, mahi-mahi, dorado, pompano
  • Distinguishing Features: Brilliantly colored fish with single dorsal fin spanning the length of the body; males have protruding foreheads
  • Average Size: 1 meter in length and up to 40 kilograms (88 lb) weight
  • Diet: Carnivorous
  • Life Span: Up to 5 years, but usually less than 2 years
  • Habitat: Temperate, subtropical, and tropical oceans worldwide
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Coryphaenidae
  • Fun Fact: The dolphin fish is a very fast swimmer, reaching speeds of nearly 60 mph.


There are two species of dolphin fish. The common dolphin fish (also known as mahi-mahi or dorado) is C. hippurus. The other species of dolphin fish is C. equiselis, which is also known as the pompano dolphin fish.

Both species in the genus Coryphaena have a compressed head and single dorsal fin running the full length of the body. Both the anal and caudal fins are sharply concave. A mature male (bull) has a prominent protruding forehead, while a female has a rounded head. Mature females are smaller than males. Their long, slender bodies are well-suited to fast swimming. Mahi-mahi swim up to 50 knots (92.6 kph or 57.5 mph).

Pompano dolphin fish are sometimes mistaken for juvenile common dolphin fish or mahi-mahi because they are small, reaching a maximum length of 127 centimeters (50 in). Pompano dolphin fish are bright blue-green with silver-gold sides. The fish fade in color to dull gray-green when they die.

A typical mahi-mahi reaches a length of one meter and a weight of 7 to 13 kg (15 to 29 lb), but fish over 18 kg (40 lb) have been caught. These fish are brilliantly colored in shades of blue, green, and gold. Pectoral fins are iridescent blue, the back is green and blue, while flanks are silvery-gold. Some individuals sport red spots. Out of water, the fish appears golden (giving rise to the name dorado). Upon death, color fades to yellowish-gray.


Both species of dolphin fish are migratory. The common dolphin fish prefers coastal and open water from sea level to a depth of 85 meters in temperate, subtropical, and tropical oceans worldwide. The pompano dolphin fish range overlaps that of the common dolphin fish, but it usually lives in the open ocean and occurs as deep as 119 meters. The fish form schools and tend to congregate in seaweed and under floating objects, including buoys and boats.

Diet and Predators

Dolphin fish are carnivores that prey upon zooplankton, squid, crustaceans, and smaller fish. The fish is prey to other large oceanic predators, including billfish and sharks. Both species are important for commercial and sports fishing. The fish are generally considered safe to eat, but they are moderately contaminated with mercury and can serve as a vector for ciguatera poisoning.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Dolphin fish grow and mature very quickly. Fish reach maturity between 4 and 5 months of age and start spawning when they reach a length of about 20 centimeters. Spawning occurs throughout the year when water currents are warm. Females spawn two to three times each year, producing 80,000 to a million eggs each time. Pompano dolphin fish have a life span of up to 3 to 4 years, but most live less than 2 years. Mahi-mahi live up to 5 years, but rarely exceed 4 years.

Conservation Status

Both the common dolphin fish and pompano dolphin fish are categorized as “least concern” on the IUCN Red List. Its population is stable. However, the fish face threats from declining habitat quality. The species has high commercial value and is extensively harvested. Many countries have imposed bag limits and size limits to support sustainable fishing.

What is a dolphin fish look like? Dolphin fish are a large species of fish that have a single dorsal fin that extends from the head to the tail. Males’ heads are rounded to the point where they protrude out. The dolphin fish is also a vibrant, brightly colored fish that is golden on the sides and brightly colored blue and green on its sides and back.

Is dolphin fish a tuna? Contents of Canned Tuna

Canned tuna does not contain dolphin meat. The only protein in cans of tuna comes from various kinds of tuna. While some fishing practices result in unintended dolphin mortality, the dolphins have never been the target or a product.

Is mahi-mahi dolphin or tuna? So, is mahi mahi dolphin? Mahi mahi is the Hawaiian name for the species Coryphaena hippurus, also known in Spanish as the Dorado or the dolphin fish in English. Now don’t worry. We are talking about a fish, not about Flipper, the bottlenose dolphin and air-breathing mammal.

Are dolphin fish and mahi-mahi the same thing? Dolphinfish. The dolphinfish is also often called mahi-mahi, and not at all related to the marine mammal dolphins. This colorful, distinct fish has a long body and a blunt face, with a forked caudal fin (tail), and a dorsal fin that runs the length of its body.

What is a dolphin fish look like? – Related Questions

Why are dolphin fish called dolphin?

Introduction: Mahimahi is the Hawaiian name for dolphinfish. The Hawaiian moniker came into common use to prevent consumers from confusing this fish with the marine mammal, to which it is unrelated. The alternative name of dolphin-fish came about from the fish’s habit of swimming ahead of sailing ships, as dolphins do.

What are the four fish you should never eat?

Making the “do not eat” list are King Mackerel, Shark, Swordfish and Tilefish. All fish advisories due to increased mercury levels should be taken seriously. This is especially important for vulnerable populations such as young children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and older adults.

Can you eat dolphin fish?

Considered good for one’s health, even though it is full of mercury, dolphin meat is so commonly eaten here that it is called the “ocean’s pork”.

Is Shark a fish or a mammal?

Sharks are not mammals as they do not possess any of the characteristic features that define a mammal. For instance, they are not warm-blooded. Sharks are considered a species of fish, but unlike most fishes, a sharks’ skeleton is made of cartilage. Sharks are carnivores and they feed on other smaller fish.

Is Mahi Mahi healthy?

Mahi is a low-calorie fish with plenty of health benefits, and contains a high amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. Each serving is around 134 calories (depending on how it’s prepared), with most of the calories coming from protein.

What is a female mahi mahi called?

Male Mahi-Mahi (often referred to as “bulls”) have a much more pronounced flat, almost 90° forehead, whereas female “cows” have more of a rounded, tapered head. They are one of the fastest growing fish in the sea, reaching a length of up to four feet in the first year of life and upwards of six feet within four years.

What kind of dolphin can you eat?

The dolphinfish is a fish of many names. There are only two species of dolphinfish: the common dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus and the pompano dolphin, Coryphaena equiselis. Dolphinfish are also called by their Spanish name, dorado fish.

Are yellow dolphins real?

These light colored dolphins ranging from yellow to pink to almost white or medium grey are similar to bottlenose dolphins in structure except that they have long, slender beaks and a broad-based dorsal fin that slopes backwards.

What type of fish is a shark?

Sharks are a special type of fish known because their body is made out of cartilage instead of bones like other fish. The classification of this type of fish is “elasmobranch.” This category also includes rays, sawfish, and skates.

What is the least toxic fish to eat?

Smaller fish—sardines, anchovies, farmed trout, fresh tilapia, arctic char—and bivalves such as scallops, clams, and oysters don’t build up as many contaminants as do the large carnivores.

Which tuna is better in water or oil?

According to the USDA, 1/2 cup of canned tuna in oil contains 145 calories, while 1/2 cup of canned tuna in water has only 66 calories. When it comes to omega-3 fats — healthy fats that the American Heart Association says may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes — canned tuna in water is also the better bet.

Why is canned tuna bad for you?

Heart Attack on a Hook. Eating fish is not healthy for your heart! Heavy metals are concentrated in tuna because of the contaminated fish they eat. Tuna flesh is loaded with heavy metals that attack the heart muscle, so the toxicity outweighs any possible health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

What is the highest quality tuna?

Bluefin tuna are mainly caught in the Atlantic Ocean. They are the largest tuna, typically weighing around 600 to 1,000 pounds. Bluefin is usually served in top-notch sushi restaurants because it is, quite simply, the most delicious tuna available in the world.

What is the most expensive fish to eat?

A bluefin tuna has been sold for three quarters of a million dollars in Tokyo – a price almost double last year’s record sale.

What is the world’s most expensive fish?

Pacific Bluefin Tuna: The World’s Most Expensive Fish.

Can you eat giraffe?

Giraffe. “Properly prepared, and cooked rare,” pens celebrity chef Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall, “giraffe’s meat steak can be better than steak or venison. The meat has a natural sweetness that may not be to everybody’s taste, but is certainly to mine when grilled over an open fire.”

Do people eat monkeys?

Monkey meat is the flesh and other edible parts derived from monkeys, a kind of bushmeat. Human consumption of monkey meat has been historically recorded in numerous parts of the world, including multiple Asian and African nations. Monkey meat consumption has been reported in parts of Europe and the Americas as well.

What fish can I eat everyday?

Unlike other food groups, the fatty types of fish (salmon, trout, sardines, tuna and mackerel) are actually the best for your health. That’s because fish is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, the good fat.

What is the biggest animal on earth today?

The Antarctic blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus ssp. Intermedia) is the biggest animal on the planet, weighing up to 400,000 pounds (approximately 33 elephants) and reaching up to 98 feet in length.

Which fish is healthier tilapia or mahi-mahi?

The truth is, tilapia is a rather low source of heart-healthy omega-3s and has as much as other popular seafood, including lobster and mahi-mahi. Tilapia is very low in total fat. By comparison, a 1-ounce serving of bacon (about 4 strips) contains 4 grams of saturated fat, 10 grams of protein and 52 mg of omega-3.

What is mahi mahi taste like?

Mahi mahi has a distinct sweet and moderately mild flavor with a fairly firm texture. The genuine taste of mahi mahi closely resembles a swordfish, but with a milder taste. Mahi mahi also has characteristic large and moist flakes. Mahi mahi also has a strong taste profile when compared to other fishes such as Cod.