Pompano Dorado

Pompano Dorado, Coryphaena equiselis

The Pompano Dorado, Coryphaena equiselis, whose common Spanish name is dorado enano, is a species in the Dolphinfish or Coryphaenidae Family, known collectively as dorados in Mexico. This fish is known scientifically as the Pompano Dolphinfish. Globally, there are only two species in the genus Coryphaena, both found in Mexican waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Pompano Dorado have elongated compressed bodies with a maximum depth that is greater than 25% of standard length. They are a brilliant metallic blue-green dorsally transitioning to golden yellow ventrally with scattered iridescent blue green spots covering their head and body. These striking colors quickly fade to gray with green reflections upon death. Their anal, caudal, and pelvic fins are yellow and their dorsal fin is blue-green. The caudal fin in juveniles has white margins. Adults are sexually dimorphic with males having a bony crest on their forehead and a near vertical front snout profile. Females have rounded heads. They have large mouths with numerous small teeth in bands on their jaws and a patch of small oval teeth on their tongue. Their anal fin has a long base and 24 to 28 rays with a concave anterior outer edge extending nearly to the caudal fin. Their dorsal fin has a long base with 48 to 55 rays extending from the nape to almost the caudal fin. Their anal and dorsal fins have no spines or isolated finlets. Their caudal fin is deeply forked; their pectoral fins are less than 50% of head length; and their pelvic fins are short. Their lateral line is sharply arched over the pectoral fins. They are covered with small smooth scales.

The Pompano Dorado are an oceanic pelagic species found predominantly on the surface but also at depths up to 50 meters (165 feet). They reach a maximum length of 1.27 meters (4 feet 2 inches). They prefer water temperatures between 24oC and 30oC. They are voracious predators feeding on flyingfish, herrings, jacks, mackerels, mullets, small tuna, and squid. In turn they are preyed upon by various marlins, sailfish, sharks, swordfish, tuna, and sea birds. Reproduction is oviparous and occurs year-round in open waters. They have a lifespan of up to four years. They are a rare poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Pompano Dorado are found in all waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from along the northwest coast of Baja and the northern third of the Sea of Cortez.

The Pompano Dorado is fairly similar to, and is often confused with, the Dorado, Coryphaena hippurus (body depth less than 25% of standard length; pectoral fins greater than half the head length).

The Pompano Dorado are seldom caught by recreational anglers in Mexican waters. They are more common and an important food fish in countries of northern South America. If sold commercially they are most likely known by their Hawaiian name, mahi-mahi. In Mexico they are covered by new commercial regulations with area closures, a ban on the use of purse seines, and the recent implementation of a two-fish per day limit for recreational anglers.

Pompano Dorado (1)

Pompano Dorado, Coryphaena equiselis. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja Calfornia Sur, November 2010. Length: 40 cm (16 inches).