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What is the Pompano Dolphinfish?

Pompano dolphinfish on the grill.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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The Pompano Dolphinfish is a fish in the family Coryphaenidae, which contains only one genus, Coryphaena, and two species, the Pompano Dolphinfish and the Common Dolphinfish. Despite its name, the Dolphinfish has nothing in common with true dolphins, being a fish, not a mammal. These fish can be found in tropical and subtropical waters all over the world, where they feed on a variety of smaller fishes and serve as a popular game fish in some regions.

You may hear the Pompano Dolphinfish referred to more formally as C. equiselis. These fish live for three to four years, growing to around four feet (127 centimeters) in length. They are distinguished by their extremely long and pronounced dorsal fins, which run all the way along their bodies, and their slightly compressed heads. The back of a Pompano Dolphinfish is bluish to green, while the sides of the fish are silvery.

These fish live close to the surface of the water, following debris in search of prey. Many of them eat flying fish and other fish species which live close to the surface, and they are often found near sargassum, a type of floating seaweed. The fish start breeding at a fairly young age, perhaps because of their short life spans, and they are not considered to be endangered or threatened, with healthy stocks worldwide. As a general rule, Pompano Dolphinfish can be found in schools, which vary in size from a few tens of individuals to hundreds.

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The common dolphinfish, also known as the mahi-mahi, is harvested commercially, and sometimes Pompano Dolphinfish are harvested by accident and mistaken for young mahi-mahi. These fish are perfectly edible, just not profitable commercial fish because they are smaller than mahi-mahi. The flesh of both fishes is dense and white, with a rich, sweet flavor with some people find quite enjoyable.

Individual consumers sometimes fish for Pompano Dolphinfish, treating them as a sport fish. Both this fish and the closely related mahi-mahi are widely considered to be sustainable seafood choices, as their stocks are healthy and extremely well managed. The lean flesh is also less prone to bioaccumulation than some fish species, meaning that these fish are less likely to have dangerous concentrations of mercury and other harmful substances.

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