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What Is Wahoo?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Sara Z. Potter
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2014
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Wahoo is a type of edible fish native to tropical and subtropical coastal areas around the world. It is prized for its delicate white flesh and is a popular sport fishing catch. The fish is also known as Ono, meaning "delicious," in the Hawaiian Islands.

This fish is a member of the Scombridae family, which also includes tuna. Wahoo are the largest of the mackerels and may reach 8 feet (2.5 m) in length and 180 pounds (83 kg) in weight. They grow very quickly — one specimen gained 22 pounds (nearly 10 kg) in a single year — and are believed to tolerate fishing well; however, Wahoo populations have not been well researched.

Wahoo live singly or in small schools and are not caught as often as some other fish. This, along with their prized taste, makes them a relatively rare delicacy. All Wahoo are wild-caught. Some are gained as bycatch in other fishing operations, and others are caught by sport fishers, usually with a hook and line or a longline.

Longline fishing can result in bycatch of other species, so it is not the most environmentally sound fishing method. The Monterrey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch lists Wahoo as a good choice, but stipulates that more research is necessary to determine the effect of fishing methods on the species. The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute is currently studying populations of this fish in Florida.

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Wahoo may also present a health concern due to levels of mercury in the fish. Like tuna, it is a predatory species, with a diet consisting mainly of smaller fish and squid. Therefore, amounts of toxins in the prey fish accumulate in the fish and can present a health hazard to humans. A health advisory has been issued against Wahoo by the Environmental Defense. According to their website, adults can safely eat this fish twice a month, while children can eat it for one meal each month without health risk.

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