Sole Fish / लेप

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The word sole in English, French and Italian comes from its resemblance to a sandal, Latin solea. Sole fish spend their adult life lying with one side flat on the seabed, while the other side faces up and is camouflaged, so the fish can lie motionless for hours, waiting for a tasty morsel to swim by. When this happens, the flatfish lunges upwards and suddenly opens its mouth to vacuum the hapless fish inside. Since flatfish spend all their adult lives with one side up and the other side facing the seafloor, they have evolved several morphological adaptations, such as having both eyes located on one side of their head, giving them a sighted (up) side and a blind (down) side. But flatfish are not born with both eyes on one side of their heads. Even Charles Darwin, one of the co-discoverers of the theory of evolution by natural selection, was baffled by what he referred to as this “remarkable peculiarity” of sole fish morphology.

They are born with one eye on each side of their head, but undergo larval metamorphosis where one eye migrates to the other side of the fish’s head late in larval development, producing asymmetrical juvenile fishes. By the time the skull is fully ossified, the eyes are permanently fixed in place.

Juvenile Sole fish eat crustaceans and shellfish such as shrimp, clams, scallops, sand dollars, etc.  Older individuals will also eat live fish. Sole fish is listed by the ICES as “outside safe biological limits.” Moreover, they are growing less quickly and are rarely older than six years, although they can reach an age of forty. In 2010, Greenpeace International has added sole fish to its seafood red list.

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