Flounders

Author: John Turnbull, Photo by: John Turnbull


Most divers have at one time or another noticed the sand moving beneath them, only to realise it’s a flounder swimming away. Flounders are often beautifully camouflaged on the sandy sea floor… but they’re not your average fish. Of course, the head of a flounder looks a bit odd as the mouth and eyes appear askew. That’s because what we see as the top of a flounder is actually one side; adult flounders  spend their lives with one side up and the other facing down. Some flounder species have their left side upwards (complete with speckles on the left side). These are called the left eye flounders. Right eye flounders have their right side facing upwards, and speckled. You can tell which is which by looking at the mouth, which still goes across the face of the fish. But they’re not born that way. Juvenile flounder have an eye on each side, like a regular fish, and in the first few weeks of life one eye migrates over the top of the head to match up with the eye on the other side. The young fish starts to lean to one side too, and eventually ends up with both eyes on one side, and that side on top, hey presto!



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©2020 Underwater Research Group of NSW

All photos on this website, unless credited otherwise, are by John Turnbull

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