Nemadactylus monodactylus

Also known as St. Paul’s fingerfin, with part of its name “dactylus” meaning fingers. It’s called 5 finger because its pectoral fin looks like a hand with 5 fingers.

Five finger © Rob Mrowicki
Five finger © Rob Mrowicki

Five-finger is found in oceanic islands and seamounts in the south Atlantic and south Indian Oceans, at depths between 1.5 - 200m. Found in kelp, rocky and sandy bottoms. Predominantly found over areas covered in algae, in shallow waters. Around Tristan da Cunha, it is commonly seen in large shoals in the kelp forest. Tagging studies showed that adults are territorial, found resting in caves and crevices, while juveniles are usually found in groups swimming about 2m above the bottom. It is a carnivorous fish mainly feeding on shrimp and small fish, while juveniles are known for eating red and green algae.

Although it is the most common fish caught for food and bait, Tristanians can only catch fishes bigger than 25cm. This is to make sure the five-finger population stays healthy.

IUCN/ Conservation Status — Not Evaluated

Length —  Up to 60/65cm

Weight – 4kg

Life span —more than 25 years

Reproduction — Spawns in late summer February - April.

Sightings around Tristan islands – commonly seen in kelp forests

Marine life on Tristan

The waters surrounding the Tristan islands are home to a diverse range of fish and invertebrates, including the commercially valuable crayfish.