California Nature

Learn about California's beautiful and unique nature.

California's Mahi Mahi
mahi mahi are great sport fish off the coast of CaliforniaCalifornia is a large state, the 3rd largest in the U.S.A., and depending on where you go, can range broadly in habitat type and, also, climate. For this reason, California plays host to a huge variety of fish. Fishes are aquatic vertebrates that have fins, gills and scales. Gills are the part of the respiratory system that provide surface area for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide under water.

Fishes are aquatic vertebrates that have fins, gills and scales. Gills are the part of the respiratory system that provide surface area for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide under water. Fish are ectotherms, commonly referred to as 'cold-blooded', meaning their temperature is regulated by the temperature of their environment. They have a range of diets, being herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. Some fish reproduce by laying eggs, while others reproduce by bearing live young.

California fish species reside in freshwater and coastal/marine waters. Coastal, or marine fish are an abundant and valuable resource. However, the ocean's supply is not limitless, and therefore careful planning and education must be undertaken to ensure the sustainability of the world's largest food source. 

The mahi-mahi or common dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) is a surface-dwelling ray-finned fish found in off-shore temperate, tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. Also known widely as dorado, it is one of only two members of the Coryphaenidae family, the other being the pompano dolphinfish. The name mahi-mahi means very strong in Hawaiian. Mahi-mahi can live up to 5 years, although they seldom exceed four. Mahi-mahi are swift and acrobatic game fish with striking colors. Their sides are golden with iridescent greens and blues, and their belly is white and yellow. These colors can change rapidly, excited fish "light up", and dying mahi-mahi often turn silvery over-all with blue spots on the flanks. These colors darken when the fish dies. Out of the water, the fish often change color among several hues. The pectoral fins on the Dorado are iridescent blue. With a wide golden flank. 3 black diagonal strips appear on each side of the fish as it swiftly darts after prey

Mahi-mahi are also known as dorado or dolphin fish. However, they are not at all related to dolphins. Dolphins are space-breathing mammals, whereas mahi mahi are water-breathing fish, distantly related to perch. They are good food fish, similar to flounder, tilapia and other whitefish.

Mahi-mahi are a blue-water, open ocean, highly migratory schooling fish found around the world in tropical and subtropical waters at depths up to 280 feet, but more typically near 120 feet. Mahi-mahi feed on forage fish, such as mackerel and squid, and also zooplankton and crustaceans. They are particularly adapted to hunting flying fish.

mahi mahi have bright coloros that change with thier moodMahi-mahi spawn in warm ocean currents throughout much of the year, and their young are often found among seaweed. They are a relatively short lived species, with a life span of only four or five years. Mahi-mahi are among the fastest growing fish, with a minimum population doubling time under 15 months. This makes them resilient to fishing pressure. However, their current vulnerability is moderate to high.

Mahi-mahi are found around the world in all tropical and subtropical oceans. Around North America, mahi-mahi are fished recreationally along the Pacific coast, particularly in the Gulf of California, off the coast of Costa Rica, and offshore in the Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Florida. Popular recreational fisheries for mahi-mahi are located in the Gulf of Mexico, along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and the Caribbean Sea, around Hawaii, around Southeast Asia, and along the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea.

Mahi-mahi, referred to as dorado, are the subject of a significant section of the Yann Martel novel Life of Pi. Martel describes a fight to catch the "writhing mass of pure muscle...with a bulging forehead that speaks of a forceful personality" as "giving me a ride like I imagine a bucking bronco would give a cowboy."Mahi-mahi are a common catch in the 1991 fish tournament-themed video game The Blue Marlin.

Mahi-mahi typically are taken by trolling ballyhoo on the surface with 30 to 50 pound line test tackle. Once a school of mahi-mahi are encountered, casting with small jigs or Fly casting using a bait-and-switch technique can be successful. Ballyhoo or a net full of live sardines tossed into the water can be used to excite the mahi-mahis into a feeding frenzy. Hookless teaser lures can also be employed in the same manner. The teasers or live chum are tossed into the water, the fly is thrown to the feeding mahi-mahi. Once hooked, mahi-mahi are acrobatic game fish displaying spectacular blue, yellow and green colors.

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