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Fish Facts




Family: Coryphaenidae (Doradoes)

Genus and Species: Coryphaena hippurus

Description: The dorado has an elongate compressed body and a forked tail. It has a very long-based dorsal fin that starts above, or slightly behind the level of the eyes. This 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.A blaze of blue and yellow or deep green and yellow when in the water, and sometimes shows dark vertical stripes as well when excited. Small dark spots on sides. Dorsal fin extends nearly from head to tail. Head is very blunt in males (bulls); rounded in females (cows).

Range: World-wide in subtropical and tropical seas. Off North America, dorado have been taken from Gray's Harbor, Oregon to Chile, but are rarely found in water less than 68° F.

Natural History: Dorado are migratory fish that travel in schools. The size of these schools is usually determined by size or sex. Young female dorado tend to congregate near kelp patties while the young males usually seek the company of older males and females in the open ocean. Additionally, larger fish travel in smaller pods. Research concerning migration has provided little information about what determines the movements of dorado. Some of the migration hypotheses that have been introduced include the migration of dorado as part of a pre-spawning event, migration correlating with the drift of kelp, and migration in pursuit of new sources of food.

Dorado are voracious predators. In addition to their favorite prey, flying-fish, numerous other ocean species have been found in their stomachs. These species include fish, squid, shrimp, crustaceans, and even small dorado. Much of the food eaten by dorado is located near clumps of kelp and other floating objects.

The insatiable appetite of dorado may be connected to their high metabolism and tremendous growth rate. It is estimated that dorado grow 1 - 1.5 ft./year. Their high metabolic rate has been attributed to physiological adaptations that conform to the lifestyle of a fast-moving pelagic predator. Dorado reach sexual maturity in one year, and typically live a maximum of four years. Studies have shown that a predominant number of dorado populations are comprised of fish younger than two years-old.

Although they are almost at the top of the food web, dorado are prey for a number of predators. Dorado have been found in the stomachs of a variety of tuna and marlin species.

Fishing Information: Southern California sport anglers encounter dorado most readily during warm water years, especially El Nino years when fish actually enter the waters off southern California. In most years, the sport fleet targets dorado associated with floating kelp patties in the waters off northern Baja in the late summer and fall. Baja anglers are likely to encounter dorado up to 80 pounds just about anytime from Bahia de Los Angeles south to Cabo San Lucas.

Other Common Names: dolphin, dolphinfish, mahi mahi.

Largest recorded: No length recorded; 26 pounds (California).


Source: Marine Sportfish Identification, California Department of Fish and Game, 1987

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