The John Dory (Zeus faber) is a distinctive fish with a worldwide distribution. In the Eastern Atlantic it can be found from Norway to South Africa and also in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. In the Western Pacific it occurs in the waters of Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
These thin, deep-bodied predatory fish are weak swimmers, with an oval flat body and large spiny head. Their normal strategy is to stalk their prey head on, using their thinness to their advantage, before extending their large oblique a mouth to suck in an unwary victim.
This species is dark brown as juveniles and silvery as adults. There is a large dark grey blotch ringed with white on the side of the body. This blotch gives rise to one of the common names for this species, St Peter’s fish. This name refers to the “thumbprint” on the side of the fish supposedly left by St Peter when he caught the fish. In its mouth was a coin to pay the temple tax collectors. It grows up to 66cm and is a highly regarded table fish, fetching high market prices.
The John Dory is found in areas close to the seabed and is generally solitary. It feeds mainly on schooling bony fishes, occasionally on cephalopods and crustaceans.