dolphin, large, swift game fish, Coryphaena hipparus, also called dorado. It is of nearly worldwide distribution in warm waters. Its long, slender body is blue, and in the living animal there are luminous shades of gold, green, and purple. The dolphin has a dorsal fin that runs the length of the body and a forked tail. Males, larger than females, may reach a length of nearly 6 ft (1.8 m) and a weight of over 65 lb (30 kg). Dolphins travel alone or in groups, attaining speeds of 35 mi (56 km) per hr. They feed on a variety of fishes, especially flying fish, which they sometimes pursue by leaping out of the water. They are valued as food in Polynesia, where they are known as mahimahi. The term dolphin is also applied to a group of aquatic mammals (see dolphin, mammal). The fish known as dolphins are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, family Coryphaenidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.