Tristan da Cunha Marine Life
The waters around the Tristan islands team with numerous species of fish and invertebrates, of which the Crayfish is harvested commercially.

Jasus tristani or Crayfish

Known traditionally as Crawfish and marketed as 'Tristan Rock Lobster'

Abundant crustacean found from inter-tidal pools to 200 metres deep around all the Tristan Islands and on Vema Seamount, 650 kms west of South Africa.

Fished commercially by the South African based company Ovenstone and the mainstay of the Tristan economy. The fishery is world-class and now has Marine stewardship Council Accreditation - see separate Fishing Section for details.

Photo: Paul Tyler

Acantholatris monodactylus

or Five-finger

Tristan's most abundant fish with 5 or 6 vertical bars inspiring its Tristan name. Grows up to 65 cm and a minimum size of 25cm is applied to fish caught locally from boats to conserve stocks.

Photo: Paul Tyler

Found around the Tristan Islands, Vema Seamount, Amsterdam and St Paul Islands
and in the SW Indian Ocean on the Austral Seamount and Walters Shoal.

Sebastes capensis

False Jacopever or Soldier

Second most abundant Tristan fish. Distinctive bull-headed fish with variable colour patterns from gold to orange and red. Dorsal fin with 13 spines and growing to 46 cm. It is an ambush predator, occupying small caves and crevices and feeding on small fish and invertebrates.

Found around the Tristan Islands, any may be endemic, but similar species occur in Chile, Argentina and South Africa

Photo: Paul Tyler

Nelabrichthys ornatus

Tristan Wrasse or Concha

Small, long, slender fish which changes sex with age and is dimorphic. Juveniles are yellow-orange, with olive-green and azure stripes on young females up to about 16 cm in length. Larger fish over 17cm are male with a brownish head and three violet stripes as seen clearly in the specimen left.

Photo: Paul Tyler

Photo: Sue Scott

Found around the Tristan Islands, Vema Seamount, Amsterdam and St Paul Islands.

Notorynchus cepedianus

Broad Sevengill Shark or Rock Shark

The most common shark of the Tristan Islands growing up to 2.5 metres long. Frequently caught and used for bait and feeding on fish and squid.

Found around the Tristan Islands and in coastal waters worldwide except the North Atlantic.

Photo: Sue Scott Photo: Paul Tyler

Ranzania laevis

Slender Sunfish

Rare fish in Tristan waters, this specimen was discovered on a Tristan beach by Mark Swain in March 2015

See Wildlife News 2015.

Unprotected sea bathing around the Tristan Islands is not advised!

Octopus vulgaris

Octopus or Cat Fish

Locally known as Cat Fish, octopus are found from tidal pools to 100 metres deep. Some have tentacles 1m long and thrive on a diet that includes the plentiful crayfish.

A worldwide species common around all the Tristan Islands

Photos from Richard Grundy show left an octopus lurking in a rock-pool along a Tristan beach. Before the island swimming pool was built children were only allowed to swim in rock pools at Runaway Beach, which, though safe from shark attacks, always faced the threat of octopus. In the photo left pupil Dennis Swain is seen with a Cat Fish after pulling it from the legs of a girl in his class. The legs provide a prized fishing bait and octopus have been caught commercially in the past.
We expect to add species to this page which may also be later sub-divided.