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Bottomfish
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Bottomfish Identification: Flatfish

Pacific Halibut
Hippoglossus stenolepis

Commonly caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls and longline gear.  Commonly caught by recreational harvesters off the outer Washington coast and within Puget Sound.

Description: Pacific halibut are almost always right-eyed, but may be left-eyed.   The body is large with an elongate diamond shape. The eyed side is greenish brown to dark brown or black with lighter blotches, and the blind side is milky white.   This species has a caudal fin that is crescent-shaped and often indented near the edges.  The lateral line has a high arch over the pectoral fin and the accessory dorsal branch is absent.  Halibut have a medium to large mouth with two rows of teeth on the upper jaw and one on the lower.  The maxillary reaches to below the middle of the lower eye. The area between the eyes is flat and slightly concave.  This species has an anal spine and small, smooth scales on both sides of the body.

Maximum Size: To 267 cm (105 in) in length, and 226 kg (500 lbs.) in weight.

Maximum Age: At least 42 years old.

Range/Description: Pacific halibut can be found from the Seas of Japan and Okhotsk north to the Gulf of Anadyr.  They are found from the Bering Sea south to Point Camalu, northern Baja California.  They range in depth from 5 to 1,097 m (16-3,600 ft).  Halibut are demersal, living on or near the bottom.

Sources: 

  • Armstrong, R.H., 1996. Alaska's fish. A guide to selected species. Alaska Northwest Books. 94 p.
  • Kramer, D. E., & Josey, T. (1995). Guide to Northeast Pacific flatfishes: families Bothidae, Cynoglossidae and Pleuronectidae. Sea Grant.

Photos: S. Axtell and E. Wright