Mahi Mahi, Coryphaena hippurus Click to enlarge image
A Mahi Mahi near a fish attracting device, 8 km north-east of Botany Bay, New South Wales. The fish was swimming at about 2 m below the surface. The water depth was 100 m. Image: Dave Harasti
© Dave Harasti

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    hippurus
    Genus
    Coryphaena
    Family
    Coryphaenidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    It grows to 2.1 m in length and over 22 kg in weight. Individuals this size are rarely encountered. Common Dolphinfish are usually seen up to about 1 m in length.

Introduction

The Mahi Mahi is a slender pelagic species that occurs in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide.



Identification

The Mahi Mahi has an elongate compressed body and a forked tail. Its long-based dorsal fin starts above or slightly behind the eyes.

The species is usually metallic blue-green above and silver with a golden sheen on the sides. There are iridescent blue to black spots on the sides.

The Mahi Mahi and Pompano Mahi Mahi can be separated by body depth (less than versus greater than 25% of standard length respectively). The tooth patch on the tongue is oval versus trapezoid. There are also differences in the number of dorsal fin rays, lateral line scales and vertebrae.


Pompano Mahi Mahi and Mahi Mahi
A Pompano Mahi Mahi (upper) caught at the surface (water depth of 274m) by J. Francis, east of Port Stephens, New South Wales, February 2009. The lower fish is a Mahi Mahi, Coryphaena hippurus. Image: Tim Simpson
© Tim Simpson

Juvenile Mahi Mahi, Coryphaena hippurus
Juvenile Mahi Mahi in an aquarium. The fish were caught in Sydney Harbour, New South Wales in February 2010. Image: Ben Curry
© Ben Curry

Distribution

The species occurs in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide.

In Australia it is known from marine waters around the entire country, but is more common in warmer waters.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



Economic impacts

It is a popular angling species and an excellent food fish that often congregates around fish attracting devices.

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Collette, B.B. in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem. 1999. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO. Rome Pp. iii-v, 2069-2790.
  3. Gibbs, R.H. Jr & B.B. Collette, 1959. On the Identification, Distribution and Biology of the Dolphins, Coryphaena hippurus and C. equiselis. Bulletin of Marine Science of the Gulf and Caribbean. 9(2): 117-152.
  4. Glover, C.J.M. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  5. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  6. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
  7. Stewart, A. & C.D. Roberts. 2003. Specimens of northern fishes sought. Seafood New Zealand. 11(11): 65-67.