What kind of fish is always looking up? A Halibut.

Photo courtesy of ODFW

The first time you see a halibut could be a surprise. Halibut are flatfish with eyes on one side of their bodies and some are giant!

Things are looking up

Halibut don’t start out as a one-sided. As a larva, halibut have eyes on both sides of their head. As they begin to mature, their left eye migrates over their snout to the right side of their head. They begin swimming one-sided which facilitates living on or near the ocean floor. They are always looking up. Hunting.

But wait, there’s two

There are two varieties of halibut off the southern Oregon coast: California (Paralichthys californicus) sometimes known as California Flounder and Pacific (Hippoglossus stenolepis). The two are very different. If you pull in one that is over 30 lbs. there is a good chance that it is a Pacific.

What if they are smaller?

It gets harder to identify them when they are smaller. The easiest way to identify them is to compare the lateral line shape. Pacific halibuts have a straight lateral line; California have an arched that goes above the pectoral fin.

Halibut Comparison:

Let’s dive a little deeper for more comparisons.

–Oregon Dept. Fish and Wildlife, MyODFW (https://myodfw.com/articles/2019-halibut-newsletter#pacific)
–US Fish and Wildlife Service (https://myodfw.com/fishing/species/pacific-halibut   and /species/California-halibut)
–Wikipedia, Pacific Halibut (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_halibut)
–Fish Watcher (https://www.fishbase.in/summary/514)
–National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Studying bottom-dwelling fishes and crabs of the Eastern Bering Sea Shelf,” BobLauth(https://archive.fisheries.noaa.gov/afsc/Science_blog/EBS_6.htm)

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