Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Metamorphosis

What a mug. Flounders aren’t born with such wonky eyes. When they hatch as larvae they swim in the usual fishy way, but, like all flatfish species, they undergo startling bodily changes at a certain age. One of their eyes migrates to the other side of the body, and they begin to swim around on one flat side. And you thought think human puberty was traumatic! (Photo courtesy of Jeff Rotman.)

Flounders live close to the sea floor, using sophisticated colour-changing pigments to blend in with their surroundings. Most flounders have relatively small mouths, and must hide patiently along the bottom, ambushing miniature meals of crustacean, shellfish, or polychaete worms.

Atlantic flounders turn up at supermarkets and on menus under many names, including Blackback, Dab, Fluke, Gray Sole, Lemon sole, Rusty flounder, Summer flounder, Windowpane flounder Winter flounder, Witch flounder, and Yellowtail flounder. However, they are naturally vulnerable to fishing pressure, and after a long history of overfishing, habitat damage and bycatch, most stocks remain depleted. You can read the SeaChoice assessment here, and browse the “Best Choice” list for sustainable seafood alternatives.

This fuzzy flounder recently turned up at the Loop Craft Café, where we are about to set up a Northwest Atlantic sea floor display in their front window. With just under a month until Ocean Day, now the time to get crafting, and help us populate our diverse, fibrous ecosystem. Check our wishlist and pattern resources along the right, or feel free to call us at the Ecology Action Centre, at (902) 446 4840.

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