Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Adults usually prefer hard sandy substrate where they can burrow; can exploit a broad range of lower and mid-estuary habitats including salt marsh creeks and seagrass beds, which usually have muddy or silty substrates , as well as sand flats (Ref. 26621). Occur in bays, lagoons and shallow coastal waters. Utilized fresh and frozen; can be steamed, fried, boiled, microwaved and baked (Ref. 9988). Exported fresh to Japan for sashimi.
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P. dentatus is one member of a large family of distinctive benthic flatfishes that inhabit continental shore waters in the tropical and temperate zones of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Flatfishes such as the flounders are unlike most other fishes in that they begin life as bilateral animals, having equal right and left side, and swim as do other fishes. However, toward the end of the larval period, flatfishes settle to the benthos and take up a cryptic, somewhat sedentary lifestyle, lying on one side of the body, and swimming laterally to the substratum. Metamorphosis to the juvenile stage involves complex modification of the skeletal structure of the head, and rearrangement of the nervous system and muscle tissues. Additionally, the eye on the side that faces the substratum (termed the blind-side eye) begins to migrate to the upper side of the body. P. dentatus is a left-eye flounder, thus it lies on its right side, and at metamorphosis, the right eye migrates to the left side of the head. Lefteye flounders sometimes exhibit sexual dimorphism, with females having eyes that are closer together than in males, and males having somewhat longer pectoral fins (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983).
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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Maine (rarely Nova Scotia) to northern Florida
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Range Description

Paralichthys dentatus is found from the southern Gulf of Maine to South Carolina and occasionally around Florida (Bigelow and Schroeder 2002).
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Northwest Atlantic: Maine (rarely Nova Scotia, Canada) to northern Florida, USA.
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Recorded range for this species is from Maine to Cape Canaveral, Florida (Powell and Henley 1995). P. dentatus can be common throughout the Indian River Lagoon, however, it is most common north of Cape Canaveral.
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Western North Atlantic: off eastern U.S.A.
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Continental waters from Maine to South Carolina, possibly to Florida; chiefly south of Cape Cod.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray, 1986; Able, K.W. and S.C. Kaiser, 1994.
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Physical Description

Size

Maximum size: 940 mm TL
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Max. size

94.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 7251)); max. published weight: 12.0 kg (Ref. 7251); max. reported age: 9 years (Ref. 52684)
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Powell (1974) showed that the annual growth cycle in P. dentatus begins in the spring and ends in the fall as the water temperature reached approximately 7 °C threshold. Flounder in North Carolina were 111 - 219 mm (4.4 - 8.6 inches) TL at the end of their first season. Maximum sizes of males collected from New York were about 600 mm (23.6 inches) TL and 2200 g (5.9 pounds), while females reached 800 mm (31.5 inches) and 5500 g (14.7 pounds) (Powell 1974).Summer flounder may live about 10 years (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983).Growth rates published for flounder collected outside the South Atlantic Bight were summarized by Smith et al. (1981).
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to 94 cm TL (male/unsexed); max. weight 12 kg.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray, 1986; Able, K.W. and S.C. Kaiser, 1994.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Marine

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benthic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Found to depths of 10 m, prefer hard sandy bottoms in which they can burrow.
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The flounder, Paralichthys dentatus, is a bottom dwelling species and generally prefers muddy or sandy substrates. This species is concentrated in bays and estuaries from late spring to the early autumn, however the larger specimens remain further offshore at depths of 70-155 m or deeper. This species has also been found in salt marshes and seagrass beds with muddy or silty substrates. This species is also occasionally found in freshwater rivers (Bigelow and Schroeder 2002).

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

demersal; oceanodromous; marine; depth range 10 - 183 m (Ref. 5951), usually ? - 37 m (Ref. 5951)
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Depth range based on 7705 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 4275 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 366
  Temperature range (°C): 4.628 - 25.874
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.289 - 22.089
  Salinity (PPS): 32.163 - 36.748
  Oxygen (ml/l): 3.424 - 6.849
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.092 - 1.564
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 16.288

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 366

Temperature range (°C): 4.628 - 25.874

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.289 - 22.089

Salinity (PPS): 32.163 - 36.748

Oxygen (ml/l): 3.424 - 6.849

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.092 - 1.564

Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 16.288
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Demersal; marine; depth range to 10 m. Hard sandy, sandy, and silty substrates; estuary habitats including salt marsh creeks and seagrass beds and sand flats. Occurs in bays, lagoons and shallow coastal waters.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray, 1986; Able, K.W. and S.C. Kaiser, 1994.
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Oceanodromous. Migrating within oceans typically between spawning and different feeding areas, as tunas do. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Trophic Strategy

Adult P. dentatus are visual feeders that are adept at feeding on the bottom or in the water column (Olla et al. 1972). They are generally regarded as top or near-top predators. Though the feeding ecology of this species is not fully documented, larvae and postlarvae are thought to initially feed on zooplankton. In a Pamlico Sound study, juveniles longer than 80 mm were found to initially consume mysid shrimp. As they grew, they fed on progressively larger prey items, shifting their diets from mysids to small fish and other crustaceans. As these fish reached adulthood, the diet was again shifted toward larger fish (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983). Data from the South Atlantic Bight indicate that adults in estuaries and shelf waters north of Cape Hatteras feed primarily on fish and large invertebrates (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983).Burke (1995), based on differences in morphology and behavior between summer flounder and southern flounder in North Carolina, compared prey distribution and feeding ecology between the 2 species following metamorphosis to the juvenile stage. Summer flounder juveniles have generally smaller mouths, smaller, teeth, and lighter, more numerous gill rakers than do southern flounder. Feeding in the summer flounder was always preceded by active searching behavior (Burke 1995), while southern flounder tended to remain still on the bottom and wait for prey to come within striking distance (Minello et al. 1987; Burke 1995). In this study, summer flounder 20 - 60 mm SL consumed spionid polychaete worms, followed by clam siphons, mysid shrimp, calanoid copepods, the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, and small fishes. In contrast, southern flounder primarily consumed amphipods and mysid shrimp, followed by copepods, insects, fish and invertebrate parts. Burke concluded that post-settlement differences in feeding habits developed between the 2 species, with southern flounder shifting to more mobile prey which could be attacked from below, while summer flounder continued to feed upon benthic prey organisms.Habitats: Adult summer flounder spend the warmer months in nearshore shelf waters and coastal embayments (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983). Summer flounder eggs and larvae from wild populations develop in offshore waters, with late stage, premetamorphic larvae (stage 4b to 5), likely returning to estuarine habitats via passive transport on nearshore and tidal currents. Once returned to estuaries, larvae settle to the substratum and metamorphose into juveniles.In a comparative study, Burke et al. (1991) reported that larvae of both summer flounder and southern flounder recruit into estuaries during the same period, and for a time, show considerable overlap in distribution within an estuary (Burke 1995). However, segregation occurs quickly (Burke et al. 1991; Burke 1995). Premetamorphic larvae of southern flounder tend to concentrate on tidal flats in the upper reaches of estuaries where salinity ranges from 9 - 25 ?, and the substratum consists of 4 - 45 % sand. Premetamorphic larvae from summer flounder generally move into the silt and mudflat areas in the lower and middle reaches of estuaries where salinity ranges from 24 - 35? and the substratum consists of 50 - 95 % sand (Burke et al. 1991). Burke et al. (1991) concluded that settlement in P. dentatus is most likely influenced by substratum type, while that of P. lethostigma is influenced by salinity. Capture data following segregation of the 2 species within the Newport River Estuary, North Carolina showed that summer flounder were most common on sand flats vs. mudflats in the lower estuary, while there was little difference in capture rates among southern flounder in sandy vs. muddy substrates in the upper reaches of the estuary. Data from Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983 are in agreement with Burke et al. (1991) study, showing that juvenile summer flounder occur more frequently over sandy substrata than mud or silt bottoms in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. They further reported that during daylight hours, summer flounder tended to occupy areas in estuaries that have submerged vegetation.Activity Time: Laboratory studies and field collections indicate that summer flounder are active primarily during daylight hours (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983).
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Invertebrates and small fishes.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray, 1986; Able, K.W. and S.C. Kaiser, 1994.
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Associations

Known predators

Paralichthys dentatus (Summer flounder) is prey of:
Gadidae
Hemitripterus americanus
Leucoraja erinacea
Leucoraja ocellata
Amblyraja radiata
Pleuronectes americanus
Mustelus canis
Squalus acanthias
Lophius americanus
Pomatomus saltatrix
Chondrichthyes
Homo sapiens

Based on studies in:
USA, Northeastern US contintental shelf (Coastal)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Link J (2002) Does food web theory work for marine ecosystems? Mar Ecol Prog Ser 230:1–9
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Known prey organisms

  • Link J (2002) Does food web theory work for marine ecosystems? Mar Ecol Prog Ser 230:1–9
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Diseases and Parasites

Epitheliocystis. Bacterial diseases
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Population Biology

P. dentatus is one of the largest and most commercially valuable flounders in the western North Atlantic (Burke et al. 1991).
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

Feeds on a variety of fish as well as, shrimp, squid and mollusks
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Reproduction

Adults migrate to offshore spawning grounds during the fall and winter, though some remain in estuaries year-round. Summer flounder begin a spawning migration as they near peak gonadal development. Often the oldest, largest fish migrate first each year (Morse 1981). P. dentatus spawns during late fall, winter, or early spring on or near the bottom in shelf waters ranging from 30 - 200 m deep (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983). Evidence indicates that P. dentatus is a serial spawner, continuously releasing mature eggs throughout the spawning season (Morse 1981; Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983). Evidence from Wilk et al. (1980) shows that summer flounder from Middle Atlantic stocks tend to use the same spawning grounds and wintering areas each year. This pattern has not been proven for stocks in the South Atlantic Bight.In the Middle Atlantic Bight, the spawning cycle is strongly correlated with the cooling of coastal waters throughout fall and winter. Thus, spawning along the Atlantic coast begins along a North-South gradient, with summer flounder in the northernmost region beginning to spawn in September, and those in the southern region spawning in early spring. In the area between Virginia and North Carolina, the major spawning period for P. dentatus is from November to late January and early February (Smith 1973). From Cape Hatteras through Florida, P. dentatus begin spawning in late November to early December, and are spent by early spring.
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Probable late autumn, winter, and early spring spawner.
  • Bigelow, H. B. and Schroeder, W. C., 1953; Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray, 1986; Able, K.W. and S.C. Kaiser, 1994.
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Growth

Larvae spawned offshore make their return to estuarine habitats by passive transport on nearshore and tidal currents from November through April in North Carolina, with a peak in recruitment occurring in February (Burke et al. 1991).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Paralichthys dentatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 25
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Paralichthys dentatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Munroe, T.A.

Reviewer/s
Collen, B., Richman, N., Beresford, A., Chenery, A. & Ram, M.

Contributor/s
De Silva, R., Milligan, H., Lutz, M., Batchelor, A., Jopling, B., Kemp, K., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Sears, J., Wilson, P. & Smith, J. and Livingston, F.

Justification
Paralichthys dentatus has been assessed as Least Concern. While this species is commerically exploited, it is still known to be abundant in areas of its range, and biomass indices indicate that population numbers are not in decline.
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Population

Population
Paralichthys dentatus is common in the southern Gulf of Maine, east to Nantucket Shoals, and to the western part of the South Channels (Bigelow and Schroeder 2002). This species is rare north of Cape Cod, but is occasionally found as far north as Brown's Bank (Bigelow and Schroeder 2002). It is abundant from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Paralichthys dentatus is both commercially and recreationally valuable. The combined landings from commercial and recreational fishing peaked in 1983 at 26,100 t but in 1999-2004, landings have ranged between 8,600 t and 12,500 t (Terceiro 2006). Biomass indices declined through the late 1970s and into the early 1990s, but since then have increased to the level they were during the mid 1970s (Terceiro 2006). It has been reported that although this species' population is not in an over-fished condition, intense exploitation continues to occur (Terceiro 2006). Paralichthys dentatus is also an important by-catch species in the small-mesh fishery for squid in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds (Bigelow and Schroeder 2002). Commercial aquaculture of this species began in 1966.
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Least Concern (LC)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP), administered by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC), manages the commerical and recreational fisheries of Paralichthys dentatus. Management of this species' stock is done by means of setting annual commercial quotas, recreational harvest limits, a commercial vessel permit moratorium, minimum fish size and gear restrictions, and a recreational fishery limit (Terceiro 2006). There are 91 marine protected area designations along the central Atlantic coast of the United States, in which this species may be found. Further research and monitoring of the harvest levels and population size of this species is needed.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes
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Fisheries.Fisheries Importance:COMMERCIAL FISHERY: P. dentatus is an important commercial and recreational fish along much of the Atlantic seaboard, but the commercial fishery is not substantial in the southernmost extent of its range (between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Florida). The estuaries of Pamlico Sound, North Carolina are believed to be a major nursery ground for juvenile summer flounder from the Middle Atlantic Bight (Cape Hatteras northward to Cape Cod) and South Atlantic stocks, but this is uncertain because dispersal patterns are not well understood (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983).In 1982 the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission prepared a Fishery Management Plan for summer flounder which included recommendations for the best management practices for this species. Beneficial practices included regulating the annual catch and setting size limits for harvest; regulating commercial gear types; maintaining and protecting wetland habitat areas; controlling sedimentation; and controlling sources of thermal, chemical and physical pollution (Rogers and Van Den Avyle 1983). Among the adverse management practices cited in this plan were draining wetlands, marshes, ponds and lakes; dredging; wastewater assimilation and disposal; flow withdrawal of water supply; shoreline development; and construction of migration barriers (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 1987). Flounders of all species are harvested annually from waters in and around the Indian River Lagoon, and are especially prized by recreational anglers. However, the commercial fishery is not of particularly high value. For the years 1987 - 2001, 1.7 million pounds of flounders were harvested, with a dollar value of over 3.1 million reported in the 5 county area encompassing the IRL (Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties).This ranks flounders nineteenth in commercial value within the IRL, and twenty-ninth in pounds harvested.Figure 1 below shows the dollar value of the flounder fishery to IRL counties by year. Note that all species of flounders were combined in the data presented. As shown, commercial catch ranged from a low of $77,149 in 1987 to a high of over $350,927 in 1999. Volusia County annually accounts for the largest percentage of the flounder catch with 83% in total (Figure 2), followed distantly by Brevard County, which accounts for 8% of the total. Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties account for 3%, 4% and 2% of the total respectively. Note that the fishery's value brings in $125,000 - $300,000 annually to Volusia County businesses, while in all other IRL counties, the dollar value is typically less than $25,000. RECREATIONAL FISHERY: The recreational flounder fishery in Florida accounts for 65 - 70% of the annual state-wide harvest (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 2004). Landings on the Gulf coast of Florida are somewhat lower than those on the East coast, averaging approximately 198,015 pounds per year. On the Atlantic coast, landings have averaged less than 300,000 pounds per year since 2001. However, catch rates on both coasts are apparently stable, and have remained so since the early 1990s.The recreational fishery was first regulated beginning in 1996, when a 10-fish bag limit and 12-inch minimum size limit was implemented. Based on angler survey data provided by the national Marine Fisheries Service, summer flounder are not of particular importance as a fishery within the Indian River Lagoon, with most fishes harvested in nearshore and offshore waters (Figure 4). Since 1997, the recreational harvest in the 5-county area encompassing the Indian River Lagoon has remained fairly insignificant in inland waters and the IRL, with the bulk of the catch (80.4%) being taken from nearshore waters to 3 miles offshore, and in offshore waters to 200 miles. Inland waters other than the IRL accounted for nearly 19% of the catch, while the IRL itself accounted for only 0.8% of the harvest. The entire catch of summer flounder within waters of the IRL was only 360 fishes, all of which were taken in 1999. The total catch of summer flounder between 1997 - 2004 was 43,001 fishes. Of note is that much of the total harvest in eastern Florida was taken in 2 anomalous years: 1998 and 2001. The 1998 catch accounts for 37% of the total harvest, with over 16,000 fishes captured in nearshore waters to 3 miles. In 2001, the bulk of the catch, 9,800 fishes, was taken in offshore waters to 200 miles. The lowest harvest was recorded in 2002, when just 352 summer flounder were reported captured. The highest harvest occurred in 1998 when 22,114 summer flounder were taken.No data were available for 2004.
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Wikipedia

Summer flounder

The Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) is a marine flatfish that is found in the Atlantic Ocean off the East coast of the United States and Canada. It is especially abundant in waters from North Carolina to Massachusetts.[1]

Description[edit source | edit]

Paralichthys dentatus (Linnaeus, 1766), also called a Fluke, is a member of the large-tooth flounder family Paralichthyidae. There are typically 5 to 14 ocellated (eye-like) spots on the body. Like most members of the left-eye flounders, they can change the color and pattern of their dark side to match the surrounding bottom, and are also capable of rapidly burrowing into muddy or sandy bottoms. The teeth are quite sharp and well developed on both upper and lower jaws. The average Summer flounder reaches sexual maturity at 2 years and weighs 1 to 3 pounds, typically 15 to 20 inches in length, though they may grow as large as 26 pounds and live up to 20 years with females making up the largest and oldest specimens. Adults are highly predatory and considered mostly piscivorous, often lying buried with only their head exposed to ambush prey which includes sand lance, menhaden, atlantic silverside, mummichog killifish, small bluefish, porgies, squid, shrimp, and crabs. While primarily considered a bottom fish, they are rapid swimmers over short distances and can become very aggressive, feeding actively at middepths, even chasing prey to the surface.

Habitat[edit source | edit]

The Summer Flounder has a range in the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Florida,[2] possibly further south where the Summer Flounder may mix and be confused with its close relative the Southern Flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma) which lacks the eye-like spots of the Summer flounder. Paralichthys dentatus is most common to the coastal and shelf waters off of the northeast U.S. where they are commonly called Fluke. In the spring months fluke leave their winter stay in the deep ocean waters, where spawning occurs, to move into the inshore waters along beaches, inlets, bays, estuaries, canals, and creeks where they will stay until autumn or even early winter.

Commercial fishing, angling, and food quality[edit source | edit]

Commercial methods for summer flounder typically include trawling. Recreational fishing is typically done while drifting in a boat or casting from shore using a wide variety of methods which include live or cut baits on a bottom rig, artificial lures, or weighted jigs tipped with strip baits. It is considered an excellent food fish with firm, mild tasting white meat.

Management[edit source | edit]

The summer flounder is often considered to be, by far, the most important flounder along the Atlantic coast as it is important to both the commercial fishing industry and very popular for recreational fishing in the northeast United States. In addition to commercial fishing, businesses such as recreational charters, party boats, bait and tackle stores, and any number of businesses associated with boating and angling may depend on a viable summer flounder angling season. Because of this importance there has been much debate and concern over summer flounder populations and government imposed recreational size and creel regulations which currently vary from state to state. Recent debate has centered around whether Summer flounder are on the decline due to overfishing, and this has made the summer flounder an important species of topic in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 2006.

References[edit source | edit]

  • International Game Fish Association, Species Identification (2003)
  • The Audubon Society, Field Guide To North American Fishes (1983), Knopf
  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute; www.gmri.org
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