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  #1  
Old 12-19-2002, 08:27 PM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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Mahi-Mahi / Dolphins vs. real Dolphins

It has recently come to my attention that there is a fish called a dolphin, and it is also known as mahi-mahi or dorado.

Why in the world would they name a fish the same name as a completely different animal?

In trying to decipher what was going on, I found several.. ahem... interesting websites.

One claimed that it is related to the dolphin, but is not a mammal.

Many (including this one) claimed that is is a dolphin as compared to a porpoise.

Now, I'm pretty sure that (mammal) dolphins are distinct from porpoises, right? I'm guessing that because most of the sites were either about cooking or catching them, they weren't interested in such distinctions.

Here's a fairly good description of it.

But the question remains. Why name a fish a dolphin?
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  #2  
Old 12-19-2002, 08:33 PM
MC Master of Ceremonies MC Master of Ceremonies is offline
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Quote:
Dolphin is the name of a marine marine mammal, but it is also the name of a fish. Because of the confusion, most restaurants today use the Hawaiian name 'mahi-mahi' or the Spanish 'dorado' on their menus so customers don't think they are serving 'Flipper' the famous TV show mammal.

Japan catches more than 50% of the world's catch of Mahi-Mahi.
'Maui Maui' are not porposises as porposises are mammals

Quote:
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English, from Old French daulfin, blend of daufin and Old Provençal dalfin, both from Medieval Latin *dalfinus, from Latin delphnus, from Greek delphs, delphn-, from delphus, womb (from its shape).
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  #3  
Old 12-19-2002, 08:37 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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You should know that there are two different mammals, one called a dolphin and one called a porpoise, which are closely related. I've often heard that you should call the mammal a porpoise since the fish is called a dolphin. This is not accurate for the above reason. But, I don't know if this post serves any porpoise.
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  #4  
Old 12-19-2002, 08:39 PM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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Catfish, dogfish, catshark, zebra fish, etc. Pretty common sort of thing.
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  #5  
Old 12-19-2002, 08:50 PM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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Well, okay.

barbitu8, dolphins and porpoises are different families. There are many species of each. It would be pretty silly to just call them all the same thing.

So, auxilliary question: which came first, the naming of the fish or of the mammal? Maybe that'll shed some light.

Desmostylus, I suppose, but none of those animals you listed above are also sea-dwellers and vaguely fish-shaped.
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  #6  
Old 12-19-2002, 08:59 PM
MC Master of Ceremonies MC Master of Ceremonies is offline
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I think the confusion arises because the spanish 'dorado' translates as dolphin.
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  #7  
Old 12-19-2002, 09:07 PM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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Hm... so it's all the Spanish's fault?

That's interesting. So did the Spanish double-name, or were they confused?
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  #8  
Old 12-19-2002, 09:09 PM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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Okay, here's a better one. Whale shark. It's a shark, but it's whale-sized, so... whale shark.

I don't know why this particular fish was named the way it was, maybe someone thought it was vaguely dolphin-shaped.

Common names can be misleading.
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  #9  
Old 12-19-2002, 09:12 PM
MC Master of Ceremonies MC Master of Ceremonies is offline
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I'm not sure exactly as the spanish for 'dolphin' (the mammal) is 'delfin' <scracthes head>.
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  #10  
Old 12-19-2002, 09:40 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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MC, that's mahi mahi. (Maui is an island of Hawaii).

A propos of nothing, just wanted to point out the incredible coincidence that mahi is the Persian word for 'fish'.
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  #11  
Old 12-19-2002, 09:43 PM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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I assumed that "dorado" was a reference to the thing's color.
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  #12  
Old 12-19-2002, 09:46 PM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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That's cool, Jomo Mojo. I think I read that mahi (as in mahi-mahi) means strong.

And, Desmostylus that's interesting. Dorado does mean gold, right?

Okay, so where's the dorado/dolphin connection? We're getting close, I think...
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  #13  
Old 12-19-2002, 10:40 PM
hajario hajario is offline
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Mahi mahi is a pretty common fish served in local restaurants by me. Good stuff. Mahi-mahi is the Hawaiin word, dorado is the Spanish (Mexican) word. Reading about the fish from the cites, I have a guess. This fish is said to jump high out of the water, just like dolphins do, hence the dolphin fish.

Haj
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  #14  
Old 12-19-2002, 11:29 PM
minty green minty green is offline
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I've personally seen dolphin/mahi-mahi jumping out of the water. Skimmed a few feet over the surface, sideways and on its back, for damn near 50 yards. Very impressive.

I've also seen dolphin/mammals jumping out of the water. The typical arched back, nose-first thing you see on the Discovery Channel.

Not even remotely similar phenomena.
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  #15  
Old 12-19-2002, 11:39 PM
Lou Yablonski Lou Yablonski is offline
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Please see my homepage www.dolphinsex.org for a COMPLETELY different take on human-dolphin..um..relations.

And thank you to all for the interesting info in this thread, it has helped clarify the dolphin/porpoise/mahimahi confusion for me.
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  #16  
Old 12-19-2002, 11:58 PM
hajario hajario is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lou Yablonski
Please see my homepage www.dolphinsex.org for a COMPLETELY different take on human-dolphin..um..relations.

And thank you to all for the interesting info in this thread, it has helped clarify the dolphin/porpoise/mahimahi confusion for me.
Jesus. I really wish I hadn't clicked on that link. Those not interested in actual sex with animals will want to avoid it.

Haj
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2002, 12:24 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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Dolphinsex.org was a Weird Earl a while back with the disclaimer "Not for those easily offended." I heartily endorse the disclaimer.
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  #18  
Old 12-20-2002, 01:55 AM
Mycroft Holmes Mycroft Holmes is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Desmostylus
I assumed that "dorado" was a reference to the thing's color.
Yeah, it is. "Dorado" means 'golden' in Spanish. Hence: 'El Dorado', the mystical city of gold. A lot of the Western states in the US have spanish names. "Colorado" means 'colorful', "Nevada" means 'snowy', and "California" means 'hot as an oven'!
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  #19  
Old 12-20-2002, 04:56 AM
voltaire voltaire is offline
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OMG!

I am by no means prude, but that is SICK!

Poor innocent Flipper! Don't take fish from strangers! SWIM AWAY! SWIM AWAY!!!
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  #20  
Old 12-20-2002, 07:37 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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I don't know any Spanish, but I was told that Colorado was from the Spanish word for pink. As in the pink sandstone that is all over the state.
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  #21  
Old 12-20-2002, 07:46 AM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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Colodado = red.
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  #22  
Old 12-20-2002, 07:51 AM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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Sorry, Hari Seldon. I should have addressed Mycroft Holmes post, rather than yours.
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  #23  
Old 12-20-2002, 08:32 AM
Mycroft Holmes Mycroft Holmes is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Desmostylus
Colodado = red.
Well, if I check my Spanish-English dictionary, 'red' is indeed listed as 'colorado' also, but I think 'rojo' is used more often. And the Spanish 'colorado' is translated as either 'red' or 'colored', so I guess we're both right.
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  #24  
Old 12-20-2002, 08:44 AM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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Mycroft Holmes, you are undoubtedly correct. My spanish isn't very good.
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  #25  
Old 12-20-2002, 09:04 AM
Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lou Yablonski
Please see my homepage www.dolphinsex.org for a COMPLETELY different take on human-dolphin..um..relations.
Assuming that site is serious, I have a couple of problems with it. No, not its subejct matter but rather the content.
Quote:
Dolphin males have a prehensile penis. They can wrap it around objects, and carry them as such.)
Right, they use the erect penis as an arm. This is also what gets people confused. There have been reports of misguided people running into the ocean because they think their local dolphin population wants to mate with them. Studies show that this is not the case. Chances are that because some dolphin was rubbing his penis on them he must be coming onto them. Sorry, no, that dolphin was using his erect penis as an arm!

Unfortunately, I don't have a cite for this and Google returned a bunch of links that read like romance novels.
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  #26  
Old 12-20-2002, 09:47 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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ETYMOLOGY: Middle English, from Old French daulfin, blend of daufin and Old Provençal dalfin, both from Medieval Latin

*dalfinus, from Latin delphnus, from Greek delphis, delphn-, from delphus, womb (from its shape).


So from the Greek for womb, we get delphic, which refers to brotherly love. As in Philadelphia or the Lagid king Ptolemy Philadelphos ( the phila relates to philial and means sort of the same thing, but apparently delphi- has that connotation all on its own - have to ask a Greek scholar why that construction ).

From brotherly love>fraternal love>fraternization.

Dolphins were so named by the Greeks, because they were sea mammals that fraternized together.

It also refers to an ancient Greek naval weapon, but I think thatwas named after the animal.

As for why the Dorado ( and also the related Pompano - same genus, different species ) are referred to as "dolphins" or "dolphinfish", your guess is as good as mine. I assume that some of the early guesses are close - the fish somehow suggested either the mammal or, perhaps, resembled one of the stylized heraldic symbols ( that I understand could be fish-like ) of dolphins used in Europe.

- Tamerlane
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  #27  
Old 12-20-2002, 09:59 AM
Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
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Crap, I did it again. That should have read "Chances are that because some dolphin was rubbing his penis on them they think he must be coming onto them." Gotta pay more attention when I'm composing my posts.
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  #28  
Old 12-20-2002, 10:34 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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The dolphinfish, dorado, or mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus and Coryphaena equisetis) is a large pelagic fast-swimming fish.

One of their favorite prey items is flying fish, which they will even pursue out of the water by jumping after them. They were called after the mammalian dolphin almost certainly because of this habit of jumping out of the water. The mammalian dolphin was named first. In the past, the fish was often referred to simply as "dolphin;" "fish" is usually now tacked on to avoid confusion.

The name "dorado," Spanish for "golden," comes from their golden-green color.

Nowadays they are almost called either dorado or mahi-mahi (of Polynesian origin) on restaurant menus so that people don't get the idea they're eating Flipper.

PS. "Colorado" in Spanish basically means "colored," but can also used to mean red because that is the most vibrant color. "Rojo" is a more specific word for red. Pink is "rosado" or "rosa."
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  #29  
Old 12-20-2002, 10:48 AM
smam smam is offline
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[Hi-Jack] Am I correct in thinking that the killer whale is more dolphin than whale? [/the pilot would like to announce that we have resumed full control once more]
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  #30  
Old 12-20-2002, 11:38 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by smam
[Hi-Jack] Am I correct in thinking that the killer whale is more dolphin than whale? [/the pilot would like to announce that we have resumed full control once more]
Not really. "Whale," "dolphin," and "porpoise" are not really precies scientific terms. Whale generally is used for larger cetaceans, regardless whether they are members of the baleen whales (blue, humpback, right, bowhead, etc.) or toothed whales (orcas/killer whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sperm whale.)

"Porpoise" tends to be used for smaller, shorter-beaked species of toothed whales. "Dolphin" is generally used for medium-sized species in several different families.
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  #31  
Old 12-20-2002, 11:40 AM
Scupper Scupper is offline
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General: The reason for the naming problem is very simple - until relatively recently, people didn't make any distinction between dolphins/porpoises and any other "fish" (i.e. something that has fins, swims in the ocean, and is not a whale or a shark). It just wasn't that important a distinction to them. Thus "hey that fish is jumping like a dolphin, so let's assume it's pretty much the same thing," didn't conflict with "He may be jumping, but he's no Flipper."

Smam: Yes, a Killer Whale is more closely related to dolphins than most large whales, particularly the baleen whales. It's pretty obvious if you think about it: almost all large whales are filter-feeders, which separates killer whales from them right there. Of the large whales, the sperm whale is the only really prominent example of a predator, and even they aren't terribly closely related to orcas.
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  #32  
Old 12-20-2002, 11:57 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Scupper
Smam: Yes, a Killer Whale is more closely related to dolphins than most large whales, particularly the baleen whales.
A killer whale may be more closely related to dolphins than to the largest whales (except the sperm whale), but it is relatively closely related to pilot whales, beluga whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales, etc, etc.
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  #33  
Old 12-20-2002, 01:00 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Of the large whales, the sperm whale is the only really prominent example of a predator, and even they aren't terribly closely related to orcas.
Yep, my understanding is that Sperm Whales have been shown to be closer genetically to the Baleen Whales than the Toothed Whales.

There is a supposed division between the "True Porpoises" ( family Phocoenidae - only six species ) and the "Marine Dolphins" ( family Delphinidae - 30-odd species ) based on tooth-type among other things, but that is after the fact assignments by taxonomists I'm pretty sure. Like Colibri pointed out, porpoise vs. dolphin is really more a body-shape descriptor and predates any formal taxonomy ( porpoise means "swine fish" and refers to their squattish body shape ).

- Tamerlane
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  #34  
Old 12-20-2002, 06:55 PM
Helen's Eidolon Helen's Eidolon is offline
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Wow, interesting posts, everyone. Thanks a lot.
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  #35  
Old 12-20-2002, 10:55 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Colibri
Not really. "Whale," "dolphin," and "porpoise" are not really precies scientific terms. Whale generally is used for larger cetaceans, regardless whether they are members of the baleen whales (blue, humpback, right, bowhead, etc.) or toothed whales (orcas/killer whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sperm whale.)

"Porpoise" tends to be used for smaller, shorter-beaked species of toothed whales. "Dolphin" is generally used for medium-sized species in several different families.
That's interesting. I'd believed that "dolphin" and "porpoise" were almost interchangable terms(the only difference being one has a "snout" and the other doesn't)...until I read this week that harbor porpoises are one of the smallest types of toothed whale. So is Flipper can be called a small whale too then?
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  #36  
Old 12-20-2002, 11:19 PM
Desmostylus Desmostylus is offline
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Dolphin and porpoise are interchangeable in common usage.

Porpoise is also used to refer to Phocoenidae, the porpoise family, while dolphin is used to refer to several other families. Not all dolphins have the prominent snout.

A distinction is often made between toothed whales and baleen whales, and under that distinction, flipper is a small toothed whale.
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