The flounder is an ocean-dwelling flatfish species that is found in coastal lagoons and estuaries of the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
There are a number of geographical and taxonomical species to which flounder belong.
In its life cycle, an adult flounder has two eyes situated on one side of its head, where at hatching one eye is located on each side of its brain. One eye migrates to the other side of the body as a process of metamorphosis as it grows from larval to juvenile stage. As an adult, a flounder changes its habits and camouflages itself by lying on the bottom of the ocean floor as protection against predators. As a result, the eyes are then on the side which faces up. The side to which the eyes migrate is dependent on the species type.
Flounder ambush their prey, feeding at soft muddy areas of the sea bottom, near bridge piles, docks and coral reefs, and have been also found at the bottom of the Mariana trench, the deepest known ocean canyon. Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lt. Don Walsh reached a depth of 10,916 meters (35,814 ft) and were surprised to discover sole or flounder about 30 cm long.
A flounder's diet consists mainly of fish spawn, crustaceans, polychaetes and small fish. Flounder typically grow to a length of 12.5–37.5 centimetres (4.9–14.8 in), and as large as 60 centimeters (23.6 in). Their width is about half their length.
World stocks of large predatory fish and large ground fish such as sole and flounder were estimated in 2003 to be only about 10% of pre-industrial levels, largely due to overfishing. Most overfishing is due to the extensive activities of the fishing industry. Current estimates suggest that approximately 30 million flounder (excluding sole) are alive in the world today. In the Gulf of Mexico, along the coast of Texas, research indicates the flounder population could be as low as 15 million due to heavy overfishing and industrial pollution.
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