The pompano dolphin is the smaller of the two Coryphaenidae family species and is often confused with the females and the young of its larger relative the common dolphin (C. hippurus). Like its relative, it is caught commercially and by anglers, and it is an excellent food fish. The pompano dolphin is usually presented in fish markets and restaurants under its Hawaiian name, mahimahi. This species, and its relative, are often referred to as “dolphinfish” to distinguish them from the so-called dolphin of the porpoise family, which is an unrelated mammal and not sought by anglers.
mahimahi, blue dolphin, small dolphin, dolphinfish, pompano dolphinfish;
French: coryphéne dauphin; Japanese: ebisu-shiira;
Portuguese: dourado; Spanish: dorado.
Identification of Pompano Dolphin
This species is almost identical to the common dolphin in coloring and general shape, although it has greater body depth behind the head than the common dolphin has and a squarish, rather than rounded, tooth patch on the tongue. There are fewer dorsal rays on the pompano dolphin—48 to 55, versus the common dolphin’s 55 to 65.
Size of Pompano Dolphin
The average size is 20 to 24 inches and 4 to 5 pounds, although it reportedly grows to 50 inches.
Little is known of the life history of the pompano dolphin, other than that it is a schooling tropical water species, prone to near-surface feeding and attracted to objects. This fish is similar to the common dolphin in most behavioral respects.
The pompano dolphin’s diet consists of small fish and squid.
The pompano dolphin is found worldwide in tropical seas; in the United States it is most commonly encountered in Hawaii. The pompano dolphin reportedly prefers surface temperatures above 75°F. It is considered more oceanic than the common dolphin is but may enter coastal waters.