John Dory, also known as “‘Martin’s Fish'”, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil eye’ if danger approaches. Its large eyes at the front of the head provide it with binocular vision and depth perception, which are important for predators. The John Dory’s eye spot on the side of its body also confuses prey, which are scooped up in its big mouth.
In New Zealand, Māori know it as kuparu, and on the East Coast of the North Island, they gave some to Captain James Cook on his first voyage to New Zealand in 1769. Several casks of them were pickled.
The John Dory grows to a maximum size of 65 cm (2 ft) and 3 kg (7 lb) in weight. It has 10 long spines on its dorsal fin and 4 spines on its anal fin. It has microscopic, sharp scales that run around the body. The fish is an olive green color with a silvery white belly and has a dark spot on its side. Its eyes are near the top of its head. It has a flat, round body shape and is a poor swimmer.
John Dory are coastal fish, found on the coasts of Africa, South East Asia, New Zealand, Australia, the coasts of Japan, and on the coasts of Europe. They live near the seabed, living in depths from 5 metres (15 ft) to 360 metres (1200 ft). They are normally solitary.