John dory (Zeus faber) is a rather bizarre, thin fish that, when seen side-on, appears quite large. This oblique view gives a good impression of its thinness, which allows it to sneak up on prey. Large eyes at the front of the head provide it with bifocal 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. More common north of Cook Strait, it makes excellent eating. Māori know it as kuparu, and on the East Coast of the North Island they gave some to James Cook on his first voyage to New Zealand in 1769, when several casks of them were pickled. They are an important commercial species.
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Department of Conservation
Photograph by W. Farelly
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