PISCES : PLEURONECTIFORMES : SoleidaeBONY FISH

Solea solea (Linnaeus, 1758)

Sole or Dover Sole


Description: This is a right-eyed flatfish which has a very distinctive shaped head with a rounded snout and a small, down-turned mouth. There is a row of short, fine filaments surrounding the head and mouth. The dorsal fin starts in front of the eyes and runs the length of the body where it joins with the tail and anal fins. The edges of the dorsal and pelvic fins are usually white. The background colour is greyish-brown with darker blotches, the pectoral fin has a distinctive black tip. Adult fish are usually 30-40cm long however large individuals may grow to 60cm.

Habitat: The sole usually lives on sandy and muddy seabeds in depths between 10-60m. They mainly hunt for food at night and feed on thin shelled bivalves, bristle-worms, small crustaceans and fish. During the day they lie on the seabed buried in sand with only the eyes showing.

Distribution: Widespread all around the coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Similar Species: The solenette is very similar in shape to the sole but only grows to 13cm. Two other soles occur around the coasts of Britain and Ireland, the sand sole (Pegusa lascaris) and the thickback sole (Microchirus variegatus) but they are much rarer and deeper water species, unlikely to be encountered by divers.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map from BioMar data for Ireland - Google Earth map:  download this placemark (not got Google Earth installed?)

Distribution Map from NBN: Grid map (fast) : Interactive map (slow, requires login to view records) : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.


 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C., 2010. [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland
http://www.habitas.org.uk/marinelife/species.asp?item=ZG9290

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