What is Pompano Dolphinfish?

Pompano dolphinfish on the grill.

The Pompano Dolphin is a fish in the Coryphaenidae family, which contains only one genus, Coryphaena, and two species, the Pompano Dolphin and the Common Dolphin. Despite the 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 throughout the world, where they feed on a variety of smaller fish and serve as popular game fish in some regions.

The pompadour dolphin is often found near sargassum, which is a type of floating seaweed.

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

These fish live close to the surface of the water, following debris in search of prey. Many of them eat flying fish and other species of fish that live near the surface and are often found near sargassum, a type of floating seaweed. The fish start breeding very young, perhaps because of their short lifespan, and are not considered endangered or threatened, with healthy stocks across the world. As a general rule, the pompano dolphin can be found in schools, which range in size from a few dozen to hundreds of individuals.

The common dolphin, also known as the mahi-mahi, is harvested commercially, and sometimes the Pompano dolphin is harvested by accident and confused with young mahi-mahi. These fish are perfectly edible, but they are not profitable commercial fish because they are smaller than the mahi-mahi. The flesh of both fish is dense and white, with a rich, sweet flavor that some people find quite pleasant.

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Individual consumers sometimes catch Pompano dolphins, treating them like sport fish. Both this fish and the closely related mahi-mahi are widely considered sustainable seafood choices as their stocks are healthy and extremely well managed. Lean meat is also less prone to bioaccumulation than some species of fish, meaning these fish are less likely to have dangerous concentrations of mercury and other harmful substances.

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