On-board a Dolphinfish Collection Trip with Adventure Aquarium

MahiMahi

This month, a team of Adventure Aquarium biologists set off from the coast of New Jersey and traveled 50-75 miles from shore on a collection trip for Dolphinfish, commonly known as “Mahi-Mahi,” a beautiful surface-dwelling Pelagic fish.

A peek at the Mahi-Mahi collected during Adventure Aquarium’s collection trip September 8.

A peek at the Mahi-Mahi collected during Adventure Aquarium’s collection trip September 8.

“We’re always trying to bring new and exciting species to our guests,” said Husbandry Director Marc Kind. “Adding a species like Mahi-Mahi to Adventure Aquarium will allow us to educate our guests about a fascinating fish literally right in their backyard, as well as the impact the public has locally on their environment.”

For Adventure Aquarium’s Animal Husbandry Department, the collection process is completely strategic.  Long before setting off in the boat, there has been a ton of planning put in place: building a targeted species list, researching the anticipated availability of fish based on historical knowledge, weather and local sightings; studying water temperatures, tides, etc. to create a thorough calendar and plan.

As they are collected, the Mahi-Mahi are transferred through the clear hatch into a large transport tank positioned on the deck, in the back of the boat.  A specially designed lid keeps the water from sloshing and stabilizes the environment for the fish.

As they are collected, the Mahi-Mahi are transferred through the clear hatch into a large transport tank positioned on the deck, in the back of the boat. A specially designed lid keeps the water from sloshing and stabilizes the environment for the fish.

And in par with our dedication to responsible collecting, our team works with state, local and federal authorities to acquire proper permits and to work within the allowable quota for collecting and minimize environment impact whenever possible.

“These trips are part practical, and part observation,” said Marc. “We can make gross evaluations and study the habitats and ecosystems that we are sampling in and take note of the water quality and any pollution, the health of fish and their populations, and we can talk to local fishermen about what they are observing.” This hands-on information helps us convey the message of animal and habitat conservation within our own state.

Adventure Aquarium biologists Liz Hann and Lauren Hauber filter sea water into the holding tank, pumping oxygen to ensure that the fish stay stabilized.

Adventure Aquarium biologists Liz Hann and Lauren Hauber filter sea water into the holding tank, pumping oxygen to ensure that the fish stay stabilized.

The entire process makes for a rather long (but exciting!) day – starting early in the morning, a 3 hour ride out nearly a hundred miles from shore, locating the fish, then working as a team to collect the fish, and later stabilizing and transporting them back to the Aquarium.

Charter pic2

Biologist Gregg McIntyre tests water quality as the Mahi-Mahi are transported back to the Aquarium.

All the while, the team must closely monitor the Mahi-Mahi, testing the water quality and ensuring that they’ve acclimated to their new surroundings.

In the end, the trip was a success! The team successfully collected about a dozen Mahi-Mahi, averaging 16-24” and 8 to 12 pounds. They are currently in quarantine at Adventure Aquarium, waiting until they are able to be released into our 760,000 gallon Ocean Realm exhibit in early November.

Once arriving at the Aquarium, Biologist Liz Hann transports the Mahi-Mahi from the holding tank to inside the Aquarium.

Once arriving at the Aquarium, Biologist Liz Hann transports the Mahi-Mahi from the holding tank to inside the Aquarium.

Thanks to OverUnder Sportfishing Charters for photos. Like them on Facebook/OU-Sportfishing-Charters!

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