Physical Description

  • A species of flounder, with a flat, oval body and eyes on one side of its head.
  • Dull brown or tan coloration on back with tiny black spots, with a white or pale brown belly.
  • Males are often mottled with orange spots, while the females are not.
  • Females are larger than males.
  • They are in the left-eyed flounder family; adults only have eyes on the left side of the body.
  • Most adults are 4-5 inches long, but can be up to 6.5 inches long.
  • Young sanddabs are nearly uniform gray with black speckling on eyed side.
  • Newly hatched juveniles have eyes on both sides of their heads and swim upright. As they grow, they begin to lean to the right and their eyes migrate to the left side of their body.


  • From Prince William Sound, Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, Mexico.
  • Gulf of California, Mexico.


  • Live on the ocean floor on sandy or muddy bottoms.
  • Generally in shallow waters, can be in depths of up to 1200 feet.


  • Females lay eggs three times a year.
  • Each time, a female lays between 4,100 and 30,800 eggs.


  • Wide variety of crustaceans and small fish.


  • Larger fish, birds, like cormorants, gulls, and herons, and marine mammals.
  • People eat them, but they are of little commercial importance due to their diminutive size.

Interesting Facts

  • Like all flounders, the speckled sanddab has both eyes on one side of its head! They are always on the left side of their head. 
  • Sanddabs can change colors to camouflage to match their surroundings.
  • They date back to the late Pliocene period, 1.8 million years ago.

Sources:; FishBase;; Oregon Coast Aquarium

Photo: David R. Andrew