HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Mahi-mahi is a popular fish to eat in Hawaii and now we have a better idea of what they eat.
It’s thanks in part to local fishers who are donating the stomachs of mahi-mahi to NOAA researchers.
“We want mahi-mahi to be here for generations to come and to ensure that, we need to make sure that their essential fish habitat is there and part of that is their diet,” said Jonathan Whitney of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.
“Fishermen themselves are often scientists. They want to know what their fish are eating that they’re catching,” said Keith Kamikawa of the Fishery Management Specialist.
Researchers have identified more than 500 different types of prey using a machine that determines DNA. After two years of analyzing more than 300 mahi-mahi stomachs, they found there is one fish in particular that the mahi-mahi likes to eat.
“We’re seeing a large number of goat fish are commonly observed in the stomachs,” said Nan Himmelsbach of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.
What we’re finding is that healthy reefs feed pelagic predators even far offshore, including the mahi-mahi. So, juvenile stages of reef fish spend their first couple of weeks, two months out offshore, and they’re actually helping to feed these big predators that we rely on for fisheries,” said Whitney.
Based on NOAA’s findings, fishers can modify the color of their lures to match what the mahi-mahi are biting at this time, in this case, baby goatfish.
Researchers also made an unexpected discovery. They were surprised at the lack of plastics in mahi-mahi stomachs.
“There was less than 1% which shows plastic is not a prevalent food item for mahi-mahi,” said Himmelsbach.
So far, more than 60 anglers have participated. NOAA is offering an added incentive for fishers to keep the valuable research going. For every 10 mahi-mahi stomachs turned in, NOAA will give anglers a $50 gift card to a local fishing store.
The more data they can get, the better and it’ll help them to try and figure out how to take care of the oceans and the reef. The better it helps us, because we know how to better target those fish,” said fisherman Mayti Kriedler.
If you’re interested in participating, email: email@example.com
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