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ENGLISH SOLE

DID YOU KNOW? English sole rely on tidal currents to move into and out of the estuaries.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pleuronectes (or Parophrys) vetulus, from the Greek para or near, ophrys or eyebrow, and vetulus meaning old man.

COMMON NAMES: California sole, lemon sole, pointed nose sole, and sharp nose sole.

DESCRIPTION: The English sole has a compressed right-eyed body with a pointed snout. The eye is set high and is visible from the blind side. Most coloration is on the right side of its body. The side with the eye is brown and other side is white to pale yellow, commonly tinged with reddish brown coloration. English sole can grow up to 22.5 inches in length.

LIFECYCLE: English sole generally spawn during January through April at depths of 50 - 70 M over soft mud bottoms. Females usually produce 150,000 to over 1 million pelagic or free-floating eggs. The fertilized eggs commonly hatch in about 1 week and the young English sole usually mature in 2 to 4 years. The young depend heavily on inter-tidal areas, estuaries, and shallow near-shore waters for food and shelter. Adults are found in near-shore coastal waters and make only limited migrations.

RANGE: English sole is found from Mexico to Alaska. The most abundant flatfish in Puget Sound, Washington, the English sole is an important flatfish in many shallow-water and estuarine environments.

HABITAT AND ECOLOGY: The English sole is very susceptible to changes in its environment. Relying heavily on estuaries for rearing, the English sole is impacted by pollution and habitat alteration. Often the dumping grounds for industrial and municipal wastes, bay waters and sediments also collect contaminants running off our streets and farms. In Puget Sound, for example, the many toxins English sole is exposed to accumulate in its tissue, resulting in high levels of contaminants which can cause disease, tumors, and reduced reproductive success.

The English sole is a carnivorous feeder that generally feeds on amphipods, molluscs, crustaceans and polychaetes. Piscivorous birds, such as the blue heron, are among the English sole's main predators. Others include larger fishes, marine mammals, and sharks.

ECONOMIC VALUE: A moderately important commercial fish, the English sole is caught primarily by trawls and marketed as filet of sole. It is ranked second in terms of pounds of flatfish landed on the Pacific Coast; the Dover sole ranks first.


Revised 12/16/96