Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Pleuronectiformes

Family: Scophthalmidae

Genus: Scophthalmus

Species: S. maximus

Physical Description

Turbot are large flatfish their body is almost circular. Flatfish with asymmetric and almost round body (eyes on the left side). Scaleless skin but with bony protuberances irregularly distributed. Big mouth and small eyes. Dorsal and anal fins expand widely over the dorsal and ventral sides. Blind side (right) of whitish colour and eye side with variable colour, generally grey–brownish with dark spots. Eye side without scales but with large bony tubercles that easily change their outer coloring to match the sea floor. By camouflaging themselves so well, they are able to catch a meal of crustaceans and fish from their hideout. Most flatfish have both their eyes on the original right side of their body. However, turbot have them on the left side. This species can grow quite large, up to one meter long. body almost circular and rather thick.  This species can grow quite large, up to one meter long.

Biology and Behavior

Scophthalmus maxima is a benthic marine species, living on sandy and muddy bottoms, from shallow waters to 100 m. Younger individuals tend to live in shallower areas. Cryptic, imitating the colour of the substrate. Carnivorous, juveniles feeding on molluscs and crustaceans, and adults mainly on fish and cephalopods. Spawning (sequenced, every 2-4 days) usually takes place between February and April inclusive in the Mediterranean, and between May and July inclusive in the Atlantic. Eggs have a single fat drop. Larvae are initially symmetric, but by the end of metamorphosis (day 40-50, 25 mm) the right eye has moved to the left, giving rise to asymmetry. Spawning usually happens between the months of February and April in the Mediterranean and from May to July in the Atlantic. Sequenced spawning every 2-4 days. Eggs have a single fat drop. Larvae are initially symmetric but, at the end of the metamorphosis (day 40-50, 25 mm), the right eye moves to the left side, losing its initial bilateral symmetry. Egg size 0.9 – 1.2 mm, larval length at hatching 2.7-3.1 mm.

Habitat and Distribution

Adults live on sandy, rocky or mixed bottoms; rather common in brackish waters. It can be found in Mediterranean and along the European coasts to Arctic Circle, also found in most of the Baltic Sea and Black Sea extending into the eastern Mediterranean.