7 January 2017

Floundering About For Flounder

I’ve heard about floundering and seen flounders served at restuarants but I’ve never eaten one or fished for one. That is until last week.

Bernie went out in the evening on low tide and put a set net out in the estuary. The next morning we woke to the alarm buzzing at was low tide again, time to check the set net.

We arrived at the estuary as the sky was hinting at becoming lighter. Bernie with Oakly by his side, waded out to the net. As he started dragging it in he noticed a few spotties had been eaten out. It looked like lice had had a feast.

There were no flounder and Bernie realised if there had of been, they too would have been eaten by lice. We wondered how to get around this from happening again? After asking the question online, we learnt we needed to bring the net in earlier – or better still not to leave it out overnight.

It wasn’t a wasted trip though. We got to witness a spectacular sunrise and the dogs enjoyed exploring.

Realising I didn’t know anything about flounder, I went home and googled about them. Here’s some information you may find interesting …

Flounder are a group of flatfish species that live at the bottom of coastal lagoons and estuaries. When flounder are hatched they have one eye on each side of its head. As they grow one eye moves until they have both eyes on the same side of the head.

Flounder are carnivorous and highly predatory animals. The flounder hides on the sand on the sea floor waiting for potential prey, which the flounder ambushes once it has been spotted. Flounder prey on a variety of bottom-dwelling marine species including small fish, shrimp and crabs.

Due to the secretive nature and good camouflage of the flounder, it’s rarely spotted by predators. Large fish, sharks, eels, humans, and marine mammals all prey on the flounder when it can be spotted.

In its lifetime, a flounder fish undergoes unusual transformation in its structure. When the egg hatches, like most other fish, it has eyes on both sides of its head. After a few days, it begins to lean to one side, and the eye on the opposite side migrates to the side to which it leans. In this way, the side that has both eyes becomes the top of the fish, and the eyeless side starts fading and becomes the bottom.

After hatching from the eggs, the tiny creatures appear with eyes on both sides of their head. The newborns drift along in the waters, freely feeding on plankton and midget crustaceans. As they reach their adulthood, they move to the bottom of their habitat, where they adapt to a bottom-dwelling existence.

Depending on the home ground of flounder fish, the camouflaging coloration may be dappled to match different colors along the bottom or in some areas with sandy bottoms. Some flounders camouflage their bodies and appear invisible to predators, as they dig themselves into the bottom, using their fins to settle the ground material over their bodies.

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