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DID YOU KNOW? Along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California, 50% of all starry flounder are right-eyed and 50% are left-eyed. However, along the Alaskan coast, 70% are right-eyed. In Japan, 100% are left-eyed.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Platichthys stellatus, from the Greek words platy or flat, ichthys meaning fish, and from the Latin stellatus or starry.
COMMON NAMES: California flounder, grindstone flounder, roughjacket, sole, and diamond flounder.
DESCRIPTION: Starry flounder may be either right- or left-eyed with oblique dark bars alternating with yellowish-orange bars on dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. The eyed side is mostly brown to black and the blind side is white. Starry flounder can grow up to 3 feet in length and 20 pounds in weight.
LIFECYCLE: Starry flounders spawn near river mouths and sloughs; juveniles are found exclusively in estuaries. This species often finds its way up river, but it is estuarine dependent. Adults can be found in marine waters up to 375 M in depth.
RANGE: The starry flounder is found throughout the eastern Pacific ocean -- from the Santa Ynez River in California, to the Bering and Chukchi Seas in Alaska, to Bathurst Inlet in Arctic Canada.
HABITAT AND ECOLOGY: Starry flounder feed primarily on zooplankton, copepods, crustaceans, and amphipods. To reduce predation, the starry flounder will change its coloration to blend in with the bottom. Nonetheless, it falls prey to birds and marine mammals.
Because the starry flounder is dependent on estuaries, it is negatively affected by pollution and the destruction of wetland and estuarine habitat. Starry flounder are impacted by wetland draining and filling for shoreline developments, by polluted run-off from urban and agricultural lands, and by municipal and industrial waste discharges. Additionally, the starry flounder has a demonstrated tendency to accumulate many contaminants it is exposed to in its environment, which can impair reproductive success.
ECONOMIC VALUE: Most of the commercial catch of starry flounder comes from the Puget Sound in Washington, as well as the coastal areas of Washington and Oregon. This species is also an important sport fish caught primarily in estuaries and near-shore shallow waters. It is the most abundant flatfish in many estuaries north of San Francisco Bay.