Shallow Sea Fishes
Many people don't remember or never learned that great empires have been founded on fish. It was cod, not gold, that drew some of our forefathers across the Atlantic.
Many of our important food fish are shallow water fish (primarily) and they include the flounders, soles, turbot, plaice and halibut. Some of them are quite interesting all by themselves.
The story of flatfishes, particularly turbot, really make you wonder about Mother Nature's grand designs and all the mysteries we still don't know the answers to. Here's one of them:
The Life Story of A Turbot Along With Pictures
The true flatfishes are, every one of them freaks. With over four hundred species, many of they have unique and interesting abilities in camouflaging themselves on the ocean floor.
They all begin like other fish, vertical swimmers with a left side and a right side, swimming as upright as herrings, with one eye on one side of the head and the second eye to balance on the opposite side.
Early in life these fishes begin to topple over. They flatten out, lying on one side, and the head becomes twisted so as to bring both eyes on the same side.
Sometimes one eye makes its way through the head. From that time forth the flatfish is a sluggish flopper. Its home is at the bottom of the water, and it moves only by undulating motions, no longer capable of the darting flight through the sea common to its children and nearly all other kinds of fish.
On the topside of the fish facing away from the ocean floor it is often difficult, due to coloring patterns the fishes' ability to even change their pigmentation to match their surroundings (in some species) -- to pick them out to the untrained eye.
One Of The Most Interesting Of Flatfishes Is The Turbot
Closely related to the flounders are the spiny turbots that eat smaller fishes. They often have well-developed teeth. Their life cycle is considered to be a prime example of evolutionary adaptation of a species.
They are found from the North Atlantic to the Black Sea, in the Baltic Sea, and even the Mediterranean Sea. They love the shallow waters of sandy shores and can reach thirty to forty pounds in weight.
There is another variety of them found in the very cold waters off Greenland. The Greenland Turbot (aka Blue Halibut) is another popular food source, particularly in the Scandinavian countries.
Today, Flat fish, like many other fish are farmed, particularly in Chile, China, France, Norway, Spain, and Turkey.
Even today scientists and marine biologists are fascinated with them. Recent discoveries of fossils (estimated to being over fifty-million years old) have uncovered a middle species of them between the older fossils and today's flatfishes that have answered some long held questions about them and raised some new ones.
As it grows it changes shape, and when about three-fifths of an inch long it begins to develop spines on the head. These, however, disappear later.
In the early stages of its life it is symmetrical in form, and both sides of its body are colored alike.
All this time it swims upright, with an eye on each side of the boyd, so as to see on both sides.
Now an amazing thing happens. One of the eyes begins to travel around the head, as we see here.
It changes its habits and instead of swimming upright it becomes a flat fish, lying on the bottom.
At last the under eye has traveled around to the top side of the fish. The under-surface becomes white. Other flat fishes change their form and habits in the same remarkable way.
If You'd Like To Know More!
- Flatfishes, Arctic Ocean biodiversity
Flatfish page for Arctic Ocean Biodiversity, a Census of Marine Life project
- Flatfishes Examined
- FishWatch - Greenland Turbot
- Odd Fish Find Contradicts Intelligent-Design Argument
Flatfishes' lopsided eye arrangement evolved gradually, a new fossil study suggestsperhaps solving "a major, major puzzle to evolutionary biologists."
- Turbot, All About Fish on The Worldwide Gourmet
Turbot, All About Fish on The Worldwide Gourmet