The average size of the halibut is 24 to 30 lbs (11 to 13.5 kg), making it the biggest flatfish in the world. The largest on record weighs 470 lbs (211 kg) and 8.2 ft (2.5 m) long. However there are some halibuts reported to weigh over 733 lbs (333 kg).
The halibut is a flatfish classified under the Hippoglossus genus. It belongs to the Pleuronectidae family. There are actually numerous species called halibut. The name comes from haly (holy) and butt (flat fish). According to legend, the fish got its name because it was widely used in Catholic holy feasts.
The fish can be found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.
As stated earlier, the size of the halibut varies, but their physical features are the same. The underbelly is an off-white color, while the top has a grayish black color. During birth, the halibut will have its eyes on either side of the head.
Their swimming habit will resemble the salmon. After six months, one of the eyes will relocate to the other side. Around this time, the eyed side will get dim and correspond to the upper side. The other side retains its white hue.
This color scheme lets the fish blend in with the ocean floor from above. From the bottom the color will fuse with the sky’s light.
Diet and Feeding Habits
Aside from the size of the halibut, their other distinguishing feature is their feeding habit. They will eat any organism that can fit in its mouth. Some of their prey includes flounder, pollock, herring, cod, sculpin, lamprey, crab, hermit crabs and salmon.
They also feed on octopus, crabs, and sand lance. The halibut goes up to feed, but majority of the time it will spend down the ocean bottoms. They can go hundreds of meters deep.
In majority of the ocean ecosystems, the halibut is situated high up the food chain. Their most frequent predators are the salmon shark, orca and the sea lion.
The halibut is a very popular food fish. They can be cooked in many ways, one of the most popular being to grill it lightly. The fish can also be deep-fried and broiled. The fish may also be consumed fresh.
The halibut can also be smoked. However this can be hard to do owing to its low fat. The skin’s texture resembles those of a chicken, texture wise. Studies show the halibut has been food for the Native Americans for a long time. The fish is also now eaten in other regions.
Species also Called Halibut
These include the Atheresthes evermanni, Eopsetta grigorjewi, Parastromateus niger, Reinhardtius hippoglossoides, Verasper variegates, Paralichthys olivaceus and Paralichthys californicu. These belong to the Pleuronectidae family.
The size of the halibut has made it an easy catch for fisheries, which have resulted in a rapidly dwindling population. There are now efforts to reduce fishing and manage its population. Unless this is done, the fish will be put in the endangered species list.