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Overview

Brief Summary

Plaice is probably the best known fish species in the North Sea. Most people are familiar with this flatfish, even if it's just from eating it. After sole, plaice is the most consumed fish species in the Netherlands. This fish has notable orange spots on its body. Despite these spots, it is hard to see them lying on the bottom when they are buried halfway under the surface. Just like most other flatfish, plaice have both eyes located on the right side of their body. They make a wavy movement when they swim, which gives them an extra push from the water, which rebounds against the sea floor.
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Biology

European plaice are active mainly at night, when they feed on molluscs and polychaete worms (2), which are crushed with the strong jaws (4). During the day they tend to lie hidden, often partially buried in the sediment (5). Newly hatched larvae spend around 6 weeks close to the surface of the water before undergoing the transformation into adults (3). In the first year of life, juvenile plaice tend to live in shallow water and can often be found close to beaches (5).
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Description

The plaice is Europe's most important commercial flatfish (3). Adults have a roughly diamond-shaped outline (5), and are readily identified by their bright orange or red spots. The upperparts are greenish-brown, the underside is white (2), and they are able to change their colour to match that of their surroundings (5). In all flatfish, the larval stage undergoes a remarkable change in which the left eye moves around the head to the right side; this strange adaptation enables the fish to lie flat on the seabed (3).
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Adults live on mixed bottoms, the older the deeper the occurrence; small individuals are usually seen on bathing beaches (Ref. 9988). Occurs on mud and sand bottom from a few meters down to about 100 m, at sea, estuaries and rarely entering freshwaters (Ref. 59043). Reported as resident intertidal species with homing behavior (Ref. 32612). Feed mainly on thin-shelled mollusks and polychaetes. Batch spawner (Ref. 51846). The most important flatfish for fisheries in Europe. Utilized fresh and frozen; eaten steamed, fried, boiled, microwaved and baked (Ref. 9988). Active at night in the very shallow water while day time is spent buried in the sand. Stationary for long periods, tagging experiments have shown that their spawning migrations can be long. Changes in the environmental conditions have been disadvantageous. Populations in Kattegat and Danish belts decreased in 1980's and early 1990's due to discharge of nutritive salts. Wadden sea is still an excellent nursery ground (Ref.35388).
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Description

 The plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) is a typical flatfish. It is oval in shape and is right-eyed (if the fish is visualised swimming upright, then both the eyes are on the right side of the body). The upper side is basically brown with numerous, conspicuous orange or red spots. Some individuals may also have smaller white spots, especially when living in areas where the sediment has bits of white shell or pebble. The lower side is white. They can change their colour to suit the bottom but the orange spots often give them away. The usual size limit is about 50-60 cm but exceptional specimens can reach 90 cm (although rare due to fishing pressure). Plaice feed on bottom-living animals, particularly shellfish such as cockles and razor shells. Worms, crustaceans, brittlestars and sand eels are also eaten. Plaice mostly spawn between January to March, each female producing up to half a million eggs. Around Britain, the eggs are laid in fairly shallow water between 20-40 m in well-defined spawning grounds.Plaice are very important commercial fish and are caught in trawls and seine nets and sometimes by anglers. Plaice spend much of their time lying quietly on the bottom, often partly buried.
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Description

The plaice is one of the commonest flatfish encountered by divers, snorkellers or people paddling on sandy beaches. It is diamond-shaped in outline and both eyes are on the right hand side of the body. The upper surface is pale greyish-brown in colour with conspicuous bright orange spots and the underside is white. It can change colour to match that of the surrounding seabed but the orange spots are always distinct. Adult fish are usually between 50-60cm in length. The plaice could be confused with other flatfish species e.g. the flounder and dab but can be distinguished by the bright orange spots on the upper surface.
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Distribution

Range Description

Western Mediterranean and along all European coasts to White and Barents Seas; absent from northern Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas. Regularly reported from freshwaters in Kanin Peninsula (Barents Sea). Occasionally reported from freshwater outside Barents Sea basin, but individuals might be misidentified P. flesus.
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Northern Sea. Reports from the Mediterranean Sea appear to be misidentifications of P. flesus. It may have been present in some areas of the Mediterranean in the past, as a result of climatic changes related to the ice age, but at present times seem to be absent (Ref. 89040).
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Baltic Sea, North Sea, western Mediterranean Sea, Eastern North Atlantic: Iceland and Barents Sea south to northern Morocco.
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Range

Found in the northeast Atlantic from Greenland and Norway as far south as Morocco. It also occurs in the Mediterranean, the White Sea in Russia, and around Estonia (2).
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Common all around the coasts of Britain and Ireland.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 65 - 79; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 48 - 59
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Size

Maximum size: 1000 mm SL
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Max. size

100.0 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 4705)); max. published weight: 7,000 g (Ref. 173); max. reported age: 50 years (Ref. 173)
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Diagnostic Description

Smooth with small scales. Bony ridge behind the eyes. Upper side brown or greenish brown with irregularly distributed bright red or orange spots. The underside is white. Lateral line straight, slightly curved above pectoral fin. Dorsal fin reaching eye. More than 30 vertebrae.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Habitat:
Mud and sand bottom from a few metres down to about 100 m, at sea and in estuaries, rarely entering freshwaters.

Biology:
Males reproduce for the first time at 2-3 years, females at 3-4. Spawns at sea, in January-June, in deep water, at temperatures around 6°C. Eggs and larvae are pelagic and drift with current. At about 10 mm SL, left eye moves to right side, pigmentation develops, and juveniles switch to benthic life. Juveniles enter freshwater to forage in mid-June in Kanin Peninsula, remaining there until August. Not all individual enter brackish and fresh-water. Adults do not move into brackish or fresh water. Feeds on thin-shelled molluscs and polychaetes.

Systems
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Environment

demersal; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); brackish; marine; depth range 0 - 200 m (Ref. 35388), usually 10 - 50 m (Ref. 35388)
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Depth range based on 240443 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 123519 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -9 - 400
  Temperature range (°C): 2.641 - 12.274
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.139 - 16.868
  Salinity (PPS): 6.114 - 35.515
  Oxygen (ml/l): 0.901 - 8.164
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.247 - 2.380
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 52.511

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -9 - 400

Temperature range (°C): 2.641 - 12.274

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.139 - 16.868

Salinity (PPS): 6.114 - 35.515

Oxygen (ml/l): 0.901 - 8.164

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.247 - 2.380

Silicate (umol/l): 0.987 - 52.511
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Plaice live mostly on sandy bottoms, although they also live on gravel and mud. Often seen on sandy patches in rocky areas. They are most common between 10-50 m but occur from 0-200 m. Young fish in their first year live mostly in very shallow water and can often be found in sandy tidal pools. They start to move into deeper water in their second year when about 15 cm long.
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Depth: 0 - 100m.
Recorded at 100 meters.

Habitat: demersal. Occurs at a temperature range of 2°-15°C (Ref. 5504). Lives on mixed bottoms, the older the deeper the occurrence. Prefers shallow water and small plaice are usually seen on bathing beaches (Rerf. 9988). Feeds mainly on thin-shelled molluscs and polychaetes. The most important flatfish for fisheries in Europe. Utilized fresh and frozen; eaten steamed, fried, boiled, microwaved and baked (Ref. 9988).
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Lives on the seabed, at depths of between 10 and 50 m, usually on sand, gravel, or mud (5).
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Plaice are usually found on sediment type seabeds e.g. on sand, gravel or mud at depths between 10-50m. They are mostly nocturnal and during the daytime they are normally found lying on the seabed, partially covered by sediment. They feed on bottom-living animals, particularly bivalve molluscs. Juvenile fish spend most of their first year in very shallow water and are often encountered by people paddling or snorkelling over sand, close to the water's edge.
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Migration

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

Lives on mixed bottoms, the older the deeper the occurrence. Small individuals are usually seen on bathing beaches (Ref. 9988). Reported to be a resident intertidal species with homing behavior (Ref. 32612). Feeds mainly on thin-shelled mollusks and polychaetes. Mollusks are the most common items in the diet, but they also catch bottom- dwelling fishes. The most important flatfish for fisheries in Europe.
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Associations

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
praniza larva of Paragnathia formica ectoparasitises Pleuronectes platessa
Remarks: captive: in captivity, culture, or experimentally induced

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Known prey organisms

  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Known predators

Pleuronectes platessa (Pleuronectes platessa Plaice juv.) is prey of:
Platichthys flesus

Based on studies in:
Scotland (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Hall SJ, Raffaelli D (1991) Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web. J Anim Ecol 60:823–842
  • Huxham M, Beany S, Raffaelli D (1996) Do parasites reduce the chances of triangulation in a real food web? Oikos 76:284–300
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Adult spawn when the temperature is around 6 °C (Ref. 4705).
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 50 years Observations: The female continually grows and with no signs of senescence while the male ages and dies (Leonard Hayflick 1994).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pleuronectes platessa

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


There are 5 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACCCTCTATCTGGTATGTGGTGCCTGAGCCGGAATAGTGGGGACGGGCCTA---AGTCTGCTCATTCGGGCAGAGCTAAGCCAACCTGGGGCTCTCCTGGGAGAC---GACCAAATTTATAATGTAATCGTCACCGCACACGCCTTTGTAATAATCTTCTTTATAGTAATACCAATTATGATTGGAGGGTTTGGAAACTGACTTATCCCATTAATA---ATTGGGGCCCCCGATATGGCCTTCCCTCGAATAAATAATATGAGCTTCTGACTTCTACCCCCATCCTTTCTGCTTCTCCTGGCCTCTTCAGGTGTTGAAGCCGGGGCGGGAACAGGGTGAACCGTATACCCCCCATTAGCGGGAAACCTAGCACACGCTGGGGCATCCGTAGACCTC---ACAATTTTCTCTCTCCACCTTGCCGGAATTTCATCAATTCTAGGGGCAATCAACTTCATTACTACCATCATCAACATGAAGCCTACAGCAGTCACTATGTACCAAATCCCACTATTTGTTTGAGCCGTACTAATTACCGCCGTTCTTCTTCTCCTTTCCCTTCCCGTTTTAGCCGCT---GGCATTACAATGCTACTAACAGACCGCAACCTAAACACAACCTTCTTTGACCCTGCTGGAGGGGGTGACCCCATCCTCTACCAACACCTA------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTC
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pleuronectes platessa

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 30
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2011

Assessor/s
Freyhof, J.

Reviewer/s
Kottelat, M. & Smith, K.

Contributor/s

Justification
A widespread species which is vulnerable to overfishing in the sea, but this is not currently thought to be causing a decline great enough to qualify the species as threatened.

European Union 27 = LC. Same rationale as above.


History
  • 2008
    Least Concern
    (IUCN 2008)
  • 2008
    Least Concern
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Status

This highly commercial fish is threatened by overfishing. It is not listed under any conservation designations (6).
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Population

Population
Abundant.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
No major threats known.
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Least Concern (LC)
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The overfishing of stocks of commercial fish is a severe and complex problem around the world, with many well-known species including cod and plaice in serious decline and at risk of complete collapse (7). As the technology involved in fishing has improved and the number of faster, more efficient boats has increased, populations of fish have decreased further and have been unable to reproduce fast enough to compensate for the massive losses (7). The problem can be summed up as: 'too many boats chasing too few fish' (6).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
No information available.
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Conservation

In Europe, the European Union is responsible for conserving and managing marine fish and their fisheries, with control by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) (6). However, in the past the CFP has not effectively controlled the fishing fleets of the EU; furthermore there are complex socio-economic issues involved in this controversial issue, with entire communities wholly dependent on the fishing industry (6). The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) advises governments on the status of fish stocks, yet often their warnings have gone unheeded (7). The British Government has limited powers to initiate marine fisheries management measures. However, a grouped Action Plan for commercial marine fish has been produced under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. This aims to minimise the collapse of local stocks of a number of commercially exploited marine fish (6).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums; price category: medium; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
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Wikipedia

European plaice

The European plaice, Pleuronectes platessa, is a commercially important flatfish.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The geographical range of the European plaice is off all coasts from the Barents Sea to the Mediterranean, also in the Northeast Atlantic and along Greenland. In some locales such as the Irish Sea this species is considered fully exploited by commercial fishing.[2]

It is a common flatfish, occurring on the sandy and muddy bottoms of the European shelf, usually at depths between 10 and 50 m, where they tend to burrow in sediment during day time and remain stationary for long periods. They can be found at depths up to approximately 200 m. Young fish in particular come right inshore in very shallow water.

They are able to survive low salt concentrations and may occur in some cases in brackish water or even in freshwater.

Description[edit]

The European plaice is characterised above by their darkgreen to darkbrown skin, blotched with conspicuous, but irregularly distributed, orange spots. The underside is pearly white. The skin is smooth with small scales. They are able to adapt their colour somewhat to match that of their surroundings but the orange spots always remain visible [3] The skin lacks any prickles.

Its maximum length is about 1 m, but adults, caught in fishing nets, are usually between 50 and 60 cm in length. Its maximum published weight is 7 kg [4] and its maximum recorded age is 50 years.[4]

The outline of adults is oval. The head is rather small and is less than 25% of the total length. The pointed mouth is terminal and fairly small with its maxilla reaching just below the right eye. Both eyes are located at the right hand side of the body. The bony ridge behind the eyes is another characteristic for this species. The lateral line curves slightly above the pectoral fin. The dorsal fin reaches the eye. The dorsal and anal fin are distant from the caudal fin. The anal fin contains 48 to 59 soft rays and is preceded by a spine. The dorsal fin has 65-79 soft rays, the pectoral fin 10 to 11 and the ventral fin 6.[5]

Food[edit]

It is active at night and feeds on polychaetes, crustaceans and bivalves. Young plaice (between 1 and 2 years old) tend to consume mainly shrimps.

Life cycle[edit]

The main spawning grounds in the North Sea are located in the Southern Bight and in the eastern English Channel. Plaice are determinate spawners in which fecundity is determined before the onset of spawning. Females mature, i.e. are able to spawn, at ages from 3 to 7 years old. However, in the North Sea, most females mature at 3 years. Ovary development begins around late August to September with the spawning being from December to May. Each female releases eggs in batches every 3 to 5 days for approximately 1 month.

The eggs hatch after approximately two weeks and drift passively in the plankton. The larvae drift in the plankton and metamorphose after about 8 to 10 weeks, dependent on temperature, at which time they settle in the intertidal zone of sandy beaches. The larvae exhibit what is sometimes called semi-active tidal transport. As the larvae cannot swim against the prevailing currents, they make use of their ability to alter their vertical position in the water column to ensure they are transported to suitable habitat. On incoming or flood tides (water level is rising) the larvae move up into the water column and are thus transported towards land. On the outgoing or ebb tides (water level is falling), the larvae move down the water column and are not transported away from the intertidal by the tidal currents.

When the larvae have reached a suitable site for settlement, the metamorphosis to the asymmetric body shape takes place. This can take up to 10 days.

Recently transformed juveniles settle onto shallow intertidal beaches. The very youngest juveniles will, for a period of up to a week, strand themselves in very shallow pools on the intertidal once the tide has receded. The reasons for this behaviour are not clear. During the first year of life (when the fish are called 0+ group), the juveniles will stay in these shallow intertidal habitats for up to 7 months (depending on latitude and/or temperature), before migrating to deeper waters. Some of these fish will return the next year (when they are I+ group) and even fewer when they are II+ group, however, the majority of juveniles do not return after they have migrated during their first year.

Plaice as a food[edit]

Plaice is sometimes used as the fish in fish and chips, in countries where the dish is popular.[6]

In North German and Danish cuisine plaice is one of the most commonly eaten fishes. Filleted, battered and pan-fried plaice is popular hot or cold as an open sandwich topping together with remoulade sauce and lemon slices. Battered plaice can also be served hot with french fries and remoulade sauce as a main dish; this fish and chips variant is commonly available as a children's special in Danish restaurants. Breaded frozen plaice, ready to be baked or fried at home, are readily available in supermarkets. Fresh plaice is also oven-baked.

Drawing of a plaice.

Threats[edit]

Plaice, along with the other major demersal fish in the North Sea such as cod, monkfish and sole, is listed by the ICES as "outside safe biological limits." Moreover, they are growing less quickly now and are rarely older than six years, whereas they can reach forty.[7] The World Wildlife Fund says that in 2006 that "of the eight plaice stocks recognised by ICES, only one is considered to be harvested sustainably while three are overexploited. Data are insufficient to assess the remaining stocks; however, landings for all stocks are at or near historical lows." [8]

In 2010, Greenpeace International has added the European plaice to its seafood red list. "The Greenpeace International seafood red list is a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world, and which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pleuronectes platessa". IUCN Red List. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2011-07-29. 
  2. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Irish Sea. eds. P.Saundry & C.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
  3. ^ Picton, B.E. (2007). Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. 
  4. ^ a b Muus, B.J., and P. Dahlström (1974). Collins guide to the sea fishes of Britain and North-Western Europe. Collins, London. pp. 244 p. 
  5. ^ P.J. Hayward, J.S. Ryland (1996). Handbook of the Marine Fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 756. ISBN 0-19-854055-8. 
  6. ^ Seafish. On Plate. Fish & chips
  7. ^ Clover, Charles. 2004. The End of the Line: How overfishing is changing the world and what we eat. Ebury Press, London. ISBN 0-09-189780-7
  8. ^ "European plaice and sole"
  9. ^ Greenpeace International Seafood Red list
  • Cooper, J.A. and F. Chapleau 1998 Monophyly and intrarelationships of the family Pleuronectidae (Pleuronectiformes), with a revised classification. Fish. Bull., U.S., 96(4):686-726.
  • "Pleuronectes platessa". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 30 January 2006. 
  • Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Pleuronectes platessa" in FishBase. 10 2005 version.
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