What’s that fish?

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The human race is generally a bit, dare it be said, ‘uneducated’ with regards to the ocean and all that she holds. Leisure Boating will look at different ocean species every month with the aim of giving our readers a closer look at the wide range of life forms that lurk below.

The Dorado is a highly popular gamefish worldwide and, as such, it is unsurprising that it goes by a wide variety of names. The Hawaiians named it Mahi- Mahi – meaning ‘very strong’; in South Africa it mostly goes by its Spanish name, Dorado, meaning “golden”; and elsewhere they are known as Dolphinfish, often causing confusion due to those lovable, clicking-andwhistling oceanic mammals going by the same name. There is, however, no relation or resemblance whatsoever between the two species.

Dorado are mostly surfacedwelling, highly-migratory schooling fish found all around the world in offshore temperate, tropical and subtropical waters in depths of up to 85 metres but usually around 37 metres. It is one of two members of the Coryphaenidae family – the other being the Pompano Dolphinfish.

Dorado are spectacularly coloured in shades of gold as well as iridescent greens and blues along their sides, with white or yellow bellies. Interestingly, these colours may change according to the fish’s mood; its blues and greens will become brilliant when excited such us when hunting or when hooked, while all colour seems to fade immediately once it’s boated. Once it dies, it becomes almost silvery or grey with bluish spots on its sides. Males, often referred to as ‘bulls’, have large distinctive foreheads while females or ‘cows’ have more rounded heads. They usually also grow much larger than females and it’s reasonably safe to say that when a fish is over 12 kg, it’s usually male.

Dorado have slender and elongated bodies with long dorsal fins extending the entire length of their bodies, while their caudal and anal fins are sharply concave. Their flesh is soft and oily to the touch, similar to sardines. Both males and females have rows of small but razor sharp teeth that will wear through lighter leaders in an extended battle.

Dorado have a relatively short lifespan and generally only live up to five or six years. They usually grow to between seven and 13 kilograms; seldom exceeding 15 kg, while Dorado over 18 kg are considered exceptional. The current IGFA all tackle record is an astonishing 39.91 kg monster caught in 1998 in Exuma, Bahamas by Chris Johnson. They are one of the fastest growing fish, with a minimum population doubling time of less than 15 months.

Males and females are sexually mature within their first year, usually by four to five months old, and spawning can occur at body lengths of only 20 cm. Females may spawn two to three times per year, producing between 80 000 and 1 000 000 eggs at a time. They tend to spawn in warm ocean currents throughout much of the year, and their young are commonly found in seaweed.


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