- Large, toothed flatfish.
- Brown to brownish-black on top/eyed side, can have spots to blend in with habitat.
- Non-eyed side is usually entirely white, sometimes with some mottling.
- They can change skin color patterns to camouflage with the habitat.
- Adult: both eyes on the same side of head.
- Juveniles: one eye on each side of their head. At around 20-29 days, one eye migrates to the other side of the body so that both eyes are on the same side of the head.
- From Quillayute River, Washington to Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico.
- Separate population in upper Gulf of California.
- Most abundant from central California to Baja California.
- Live in nearshore waters, estuaries, and the inner continental shelf.
- Most often in 10-100 feet of water, can be found as deep as 600 feet.
- Spawning from February-September, with most spawning in May.
- Adults come from deeper waters to spawn in 16-60 feet.
- Fertilization is external, eggs are deposited on sandy bottom.
- Larvae and post-larvae float in water column for several months before settling on bottom.
- Visual ambush predators – lie flat and very still, partially buried on the seafloor, and then swim out and attack their swimming prey.
- Larval halibut eat plankton.
- Adult halibut eat other small fish, like anchovies and sardines.
- Bottlenose dolphins, angel sharks, Pacific electric rays, sea lions, and humans fishing for them.
- These are not “true” halibuts. They are not in the Hippoglossus genus with the Pacific halibut and Atlantic halibut, the only two true halibuts.
- As larval halibuts, they are born with one eye on each side of their head. At around 20-29 days, one eye migrates to the other side of the body so that both eyes are on the same side of the head! Halibut can be right-eyed or left-eyed.
- California halibut is one of the most important recreational and commercial species in southern California. Most is consumed here in the US, with very little exported.
Sources: California Department of Fish and Wildlife; California Sea Grant; Aquarium of the Pacific; Ben Frable, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Photo: Tracy Clark