DOLPHIN / Coryphaena hippurus Linnaeus, 1758; CORY PHAENIDAE FAMILY ; also called dolphinfish, mahi mahi, dorado
Found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate seas, the dolphin is pelagic, schooling, and migratory. Though occasionally caught from an ocean pier, it is basically a deep water species, inhabiting the surface of the open ocean.
The dolphin is an extremely distinctive fish, both for its shape and its colors. Though it is among the most colorful fish in the sea,
the colors are quite variable and defy an accurate, simple description. Generally, when the fish is alive in the water, the dolphin is rich iridescent blue or blue green dorsally; gold, bluish gold, or silvery gold on the lower flanks; and silvery white or yellow on the belly. The sides are sprinkled with a mixture of dark and light spots, ranging from black or blue to golden. The dorsal fm is rich blue, and the sail fin is golden or silvery. The other fins are generally golden yellow, edged with blue. When the dolphin is removed from the water, the colors fluctuate between blue, green, and yellow. After death the fish usually turns uniformly yellow or silvery gray.
Large males have high, vertical foreheads, while the female's forehead is rounded. Males grow larger than females. There are no spines in any of the furs. The dorsal fm has 55 66 soft rays. The anal fin has 25 31 soft rays.
Dolphins are extremely fast swimmers and feed extensively on flying fish and squid as well as on other small fish. They have a particular affinity for swimming beneath buoys, seaweed, logs, and floating objects of almost any kind. One skipper reportedly made some very good catches while circling a ladder found drifting in the water.
Hooked dolphin may leap or tailwalk, darting first in one direction, then another. It is believed that they can reach speeds up to 50 mph (80.5 kph) in short bursts. Successful fishing methods include trolling surface baits (flying fish, mullet, balm, squid, strip baits) or artificial lures; also live bait fishing or casting. If the first dolphin caught is kept in the water, it will usually hold the school, and often others will come near enough to be caught by casting.
In addition to being a highly rated game fish, the dolphin is a delicious food fish. It is often referred to as the "dolphinfish" to distinguish it from the dolphin of the porpoise family, which is a mammal and in no way related.
The dolphin family (Coryphaenidae) consists of two species. The smaller variety, pompano dolphin (Coryphaena equiselis) often confused with females or small males of the larger dolphin (C. hippurus). The two species can be quickly distinguished because the greatest body depth of C. equiselis is near the middle of the body instead of up front close to the head. Also, its dorsal fin originates behind rather than directly above. The eyes and anal fm does not have an extended anterior lobe with a concave outline.