California Halibut – Paralichthys californicus. Other names: chicken halibut, Southern halibut, flatties.
Identifying Characteristics and Biology
- The California halibut is a flat fish – with eyes on one side of the head. This species is unique in that their eyes can migrate to either side of the fish. Even though the California halibut is a member of the left-eyed flounder family, about 40 percent of California halibut have their eyes on the right side. (1.)
- Unlike other flatfishes, the California halibut has lots of teeth.
- Typically, the side with the eyes has mottled colors of dark brown to black, and the blind side – white.
- The key identifying characteristic between this halibut and others is its high arch on its lateral line.
- The fish can grow to 5 feet in length, and up to 72 lbs. in weight
Range and Habitat
- Typical range: Northern Washington state to Southern Baja California, from between the shore line to about 600 feet out (most commonly found about 5 feet to 180 feet from shore).
- Look for the California halibut on sandy bottoms, near rocks and artificial reefs.
- The California halibut is found fresh, and frozen in fillets and steaks.
Love, Milton. Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast. Santa Barbara: Really Big Press, 1996. Print.
Kutyrev, O. and A. Sherwood 2012. “Paralichthys californicus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 19, 2014 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Paralichthys_californicus/
(1.) “Marine Sportfish Identification: Flatfishes.” Marine Sportfish Identification: Flatfishes. CA Dept. Fish and Wildlife, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.