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Bottomfish Identification: Flatfish

Curlfin Sole
Pleuronichthys decurrens

Occasionally caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls. 

Description: A right-eyed flatfish with a deep oval-shaped body.  The eyed side is yellowish or reddish brown to dark brown or black, usually with brown or grey mottling. The blind side is white and the first 9 to 12 dorsal fin rays originate here. All fins are dark in color and the dorsal and anal fins are high. The caudal fin is rounded and the lateral line has a slight curve over the pectoral fin. A long accessory dorsal branch reaches to the midpoint of the body. This species has a small mouth, with large, closely set eyes.  Between the eyes is a high bony ridge with a tubercle or blunt spine at each end.  There are 2-3 additional bony tubercles on the head behind the upper eye.  The maxillary extends to below the anterior part of lower eye. The dorsal fin originates level with the lower corner of the mouth and there is an anal spine present. Curlfin sole are similar to spotted and hornyhead turbots, which have 4 to 6 dorsal fin rays originating on the blind side. 

Maximum Size: To 37 cm (15 in) in length, and 0.78 kg (1.71 lbs) in weight.

Maximum Age: Information is lacking for this species.

Range/Habitat: The native habitat of curlfin sole is the subtropical waters of the eastern Pacific, from Prince William Sound, Alaska in the north to San Quintín, Baja California in the south.  It is a demersal fish that lives on soft bottoms at depths of between 8 and 530 m (26-1,740 ft).  They are most commonly found above 91 m (300 ft).


Photo: ODFW