Genetic tests conducted on fish bones found in a shipwrecked vessel off the coast of Israel, south of Haifa, indicate that a now-extinct subspecies of tilapia existed as early as 1,300 years ago in the country.The name of the fish comes from the story in Matthew 17:12-27 (NRSV):
The seventh-century ship (from the early Islamic period) was found in the Mediterranean Sea about 100 meters away from Dor Beach, at the foot of the Carmel Mountains.
The species of tilapia that still exists in Israel, and popularly called St. Peter's fish (musht, in Hebrew), typically lives in fresh water.
24 When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax[i] came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?”[j] 25 He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” 26 When Peter[k] said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. 27 However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin;[l] take that and give it to them for you and me.”