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summer flounder


  Summer Flounder are caught by Viking Village boats in the otter trawl (dragger) fishery and as bycatch in the scallop and to a lesser extent the gillnet monkfish fisheries. The otter trawl fishery has been carefully managed and the stock is healthy and harvests are currently sustainable.

     This species ranges from Nova Scotia to Florida with a significant presence in New Jersey. Fluke are bottom dwellers, lying partially covered in sand to ambush their prey which they will sometimes chase all the way to the surface. 

Fishwatch Facts

•Geographic range: In the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to the east coast of Florida; in U.S. waters, most common in the Mid-Atlantic region from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Cape Fear, North Carolina

•Habitat: From winter through early spring, larvae enter estuaries and coastal lagoons and develop into juveniles that bury in the sediment. Juveniles use estuarine marsh creeks, seagrass beds, mud flats, and open bay areas for habitat. Juveniles are most abundant in areas with a predominantly sandy bottom or sand-shell substrate, or where there is a transition from fine sand to silt and clay. Adults spend most of their life on or near the sea bottom burrowing in the sandy substrate. They can also be found in marsh creeks, sea grass beds, and sand flats.

•Life span: Females live to at least 14 years, and males live to 12 years

•Food: Larval and post larval flounder primarily feed on zooplankton (tiny floating animals) and small crustaceans. Juveniles include more fish in their diet. Adults are opportunistic feeders, eating whatever food is convenient at the time, and feed mostly on fish and crustaceans. Specific types of prey include windowpane and winter flounder, northern pipefish, Atlantic menhaden, bay anchovy, red and silver hake, scup, Atlantic silverside, American sand lance, bluefish, weakfish, mummichog, rock crabs, squids, shrimp, small bivalve and gastropod mollusks, small crustaceans, marine worms, and sand dollars.


•Growth rate: Fast; females grow faster than males

•Maximum size: Males can grow up to about 25 inches; females can grow up to about 36 inches.

•Reaches reproductive maturity: At age 2 or 3, at a length of about 10 inches

•Reproduction: Depending on their size, females can have 460,000 to over 4 million eggs. Summer flounder spawn several times throughout the spawning season. Eggs are buoyant and released in the water column and hatch in waters of the continental shelf. Larvae are transported by prevailing water currents toward coastal areas where they develop into juvenile summer flounder.Summer flounder have high reproductive potential which means it's possible they'll respond to management actions more rapidly than species that reproduce slowly and in small numbers. 

•Spawning season: In the fall and early winter, when summer flounder move offshore

•Spawning grounds: In open ocean areas of the continental shelf

•Migrations: Summer flounder migrate inshore and offshore seasonally in response to changes in water temperature. During winter and early spring, they are found offshore along the outer edge of the continental shelf, but in late spring and early summer, they move inshore and concentrate in shallow coastal waters and estuaries. Summer flounder migrate back offshore in the fall. 

•Predators: Larval and juvenile summer flounder are preyed upon until they grow large enough to fend for themselves; predators include spiny dogfish, goosefish (monkfish), cod, silver hake, red hake, spotted hake, sea raven, longhorn sculpin, and fourspot flounder. Large sharks, rays, and goosefish (monkfish) prey on adult summer flounder. 

•Commercial or recreational interest: Both

•Distinguishing characteristics: The bodies of summer flounder are laterally flattened, and both eyes are on the left side. Summer flounder are able to blend into their background by adapting to the texture and color of the substrate.

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