Mahi mahi, the Hawaiian name for the dolphin fish, is the name it goes by when it is sold in seafood markets and restaurants. A favorite of deep-sea fishermen and seafood lovers, the dolphin fish is not related to the marine mammal of the same name. It is a large, aggressive predator that feeds on a wide variety of ocean species.
The mahi mahi feeds on small ocean fishes such as flying fish, man-o-war fish, sargassum fish and triggerfish. They also eat juveniles of large fish such as the tuna, billfish, mackerel and other dolphin fish. Other favorite foods include invertebrates such as octopus, squid, crabs and jellyfish.
Dolphin fish grow rapidly and have voracious appetites. They are swift, agile predators that feed in the daytime near the water’s surface. They often feed on small fish and shrimp found in sargassum, a type of free-floating brown seaweed found in coastal Atlantic waters.
Because the mahi mahi are indiscriminate foragers, they sometimes eat nonfood items found entangled in the seaweed in which they feed. According to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, items such as plastic wrappers, light bulbs and string have been found in the stomachs of dolphin fish.