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.

Market Forms

  • The California halibut is found fresh, and frozen in fillets and steaks.

Resources:

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.

 

 

John’s motto is ‘release it unharmed or do it justice on the plate.’ Executive Chef, photographer, and surfer, John photographs ocean marine life when he’s out fishing, and creates masterpieces in the kitchen with what he keeps on deck. His photo works have been used in OEHHA Fish Advisories, National Geographic presentations, and nonprofit marine life groups. When he’s not fishing, he’s making great BBQ. Visit him at johnsheltondesigns.com, and send him a message using the contact form using the link above.