In each issue of Sport Fishing magazine, a panel of five international expert ichthyologists identifies unusual and often amazing fishes in photos submitted by readers. Find out what they are and learn fascinating facts about them.
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Deep in the Domain of the Domine
In the southern Bahamas, while deep-dropping off Little Inagua, we caught this fish on the bottom in 1,800 feet of water. I figured if anyone would know what it is, SF’s Fish Facts experts would. Pretty cool fish, though its white meat was soft. It had fangs very similar to those of a speckled trout.
Capt. Pat Dineen
Pat, your photos make a final identification a bit tricky, but based on those, it appears to be a domine, Epinnula magistralis. This rarely encountered species is quite similar to the American sackfish, Neoepinnula americana; both are members of the family Gempylidae, the snake mackerels. A primary means to distinguish the two is the original (forward area) of their lateral lines, but this is obscured by a pectoral fin here. So, it could be a sackfish. The two species’ geographical ranges overlap in the western central Atlantic. The domine is apparently much larger than the American sackfish (with reported maximums of 39 and 9 inches, respectively), and that further suggests your catch is a domine. Little life history is available for the species.
We were trolling small artificial lures and catching blackfin tuna on the Islamorada Hump when one of them coughed up a few of these tiny fish. Looking closer, I noticed the forked tail and body shape. Could these be newborn mahi?
Good call, Jeffrey. It is a young dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus. This species is one of the fastest-growing fish in the ocean; small dolphin, such as the one you found, have the potential to grow nearly an inch every six days, but in reality, their growth rate varies considerably. Even adult dolphinfish can grow rapidly; data collected for fish in the Gulf of Mexico suggest that they can reach lengths approaching 5 feet in two years. This incredibly rapid growth corresponds with a short life span: No dolphinfish survives more…