Common name: Turbot
Latin name: Scophthalums maximus
Record weight: As the Latin name suggests, the turbot is the largest species in its family reaching a metre or more in length. The boat record is held by an impressive fish of 33lb 12oz, whilst the shore record is not far behind at 28lb 8oz. Larger fish have been caught by commercial boats, although as this fish is of high value it is targeted remorselessly by fisherman.
Distribution: Found around the coast of the British isles, although now more common in the Northern waters. Mainly found over muddy-sand and lightly broken ground.
Features: The turbot is a muddy brown colour with numerous small darker brown spots. The colour of the fish can vary greatly though to match the colour of the seabed. The turbot has a large mouth, ideal for catching fish and crustaceans and relatively large eyes. Unusually, turbot are scaleless, being covered with a sprinkling of bony tubercles that provide a degree of protection. This lack of scale, and it's great taste, make turbot a highly desirable commercial fish.
Diet: Turbot lay buried in the seabed much of the time waiting for prey to come close enough to pounce upon. Small fish and crustaceans, particularly shrimp, make up the bulk of the diet, although they will also take other locally available prey.
Spawning: Turbot spawn in the early Spring. The larger females release several hundred thousand eggs measuring little more than a millimetre in diameter. As with other flatfish, the turbot's eggs contain a droplet of oil that makes the eggs positively buoyant. The fertilised eggs rise to the upper layers of the water column where they hatch after about two weeks. The young fish spend the first year of their life swimming in an upright position feeding upon the rich plankton before undergoing their metamorphosis. At this stage the colouring of the fish changes, with the upper surface becoming more pigmented than the lower. The right eye begins to move around to the left (upper) side of the body and the fish migrate to the seabed.