Twotone fingerfins on the Clan Stuart

Sea life: Two tone fingerfins

It’s not a new thing for us to see two tone fingerfins (Chirodactylus brachydactylus) but for some reason these beautiful fish are devilishly difficult to photograph. They are abundant among the wrecks at Long Beach, but never stick around long enough for me to get a decent picture of them.

Two tone fingerfin at Long Beach
Two tone fingerfin at Long Beach

They have distinctive reddish-brown and white markings, with five or six spots down their flanks. Their pectoral fins do look rather like fingers – the webbing is very pale in colour. Members of the fingerfin family have taste buds on the ends of their pectoral fins.

Twotone fingerfins on the Clan Stuart
Twotone fingerfins on the Clan Stuart

I was thus very surprised to find this docile trio on a dive on the SS Clan Stuart in May. They appeared to be resting, and although one of them swam away as I approached, the other two remained on the wreck. These fish grow to about 60 centimetres at most (though I have never seen one that big), weighing up to three kilograms. They are also known as butterfish

Twotone fingerfins on the Clan Stuart
Twotone fingerfins on the Clan Stuart

They are found on rocky reefs all the way around the South African coast and feed on invertebrates such as crabs and amphipods. Two tone fingerfins take up mouthfuls of sand, sift out the tasty bits, and expel the remaining sand through their gill slits.

Published by

Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

Leave a Reply