Flounders, Paralichthys spp.

Nearly all flounders landed by anglers in Florida are one of three species in the genus Paralichthys: gulf flounder P. albigutta; southern flounder, P. lethostigma; or summer flounder, P. dentatus. Gulf flounder are the only species to range along the entire Florida coast. Summer flounder are only a minor component of the flounder landings in northeast Florida; their center of distribution is off the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Bight. Southern flounder are generally only found north of the Loxahatchee River on the Atlantic coast and north of the Caloosahatchee River on the gulf coast. The distributions of gulf and southern flounder appear to be substrate-related. Southern flounder are found on silt and mud, and gulf flounder are found mostly on sand. Studies have shown that female southern flounder reach about 28" and 7 years of age while female gulf flounder reach only about 18" and 3 years of age (Table 1; Wenner et al. 1990; Stokes 1977). More recently, Fitzhugh et al. (1999) reported that gulf flounder attain older ages than previously thought: the oldest gulf flounder found in offshore waters off northwest Florida was age 11. While estuarine samples of southern flounder show maximum ages of about 4 years (Stunz et al. 2000; Fitzhugh et al. 1999), older fish probably occur in shelf waters. Males of both species do not get as large as females. Female southern flounder mature at age 3 or 4 (Wenner et al. 1990), and female gulf flounder mature at age 1 (Fitzhugh et al. 1999). Both species spawn in offshore waters during late fall–winter (65 ft–200 ft).

Publisher - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI)

Subjects - Fish, Gulf Flounder, Paralichthys albigutta; Fish, Southern Flounder, Paralichthys lethostigma

Citation: FWRI. 2008. Flounders, Paralichthys spp. St. Petersburg (FL): Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI). 6 pp