Pacific Leopard Flounder, Bothus leopardinus
The Pacific Leopard Flounder, Bothus leopardinus, whose common Spanish name is lenguado leopardo del Pacifico, is a species in the Lefteye Flounder or Bothidae Family, known collectively as lenguado chuecos in Mexico. Globally, there are eighteen species in the genus Bothus, six of which are found in Mexican waters, four in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific. They are all left eyed fish with an arched lateral line.
The Pacific Leopard Flounders have oval bodies with a depth of 60 to 64% of standard length. They vary in color from pale to dark brown and are covered with light colored star-shaped blotches some of which have dark centers and are grouped in circles. They also have a black blotch inside their mouth that is visible dorsally below their lower eye. They have a small mouth with a pointed snout and a pair of fairly large eyes on their left side that are normally widely separated with the lower eye well in front of the upper eye (pictured below) that is equipped with small teeth. Their anal fin has 64 to 70 rays; their dorsal fin originates well before their top eye and has 86 to 92 rays; their eyed-side pectoral fin is larger than their blind-side pectoral fin; and their eyed-side pelvic fin originates under their lower eye and has a long base. They have 17 to 18 short stubby gill rakers. Their lateral line is prominent and strongly arched over the pectoral fins and their body is covered with small scales.
The Pacific Leopard Flounders are found over and within soft sandy bottoms at depths up to 400 feet and are uniquely colored to blend with the substratum. They reach a maximum length of 20.0 cm (7.9 inches). They feed on small fish and crustaceans. They are a relatively small species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Pacific Leopard Flounders are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from Magdalena Bay northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja and in the northern third of the Sea of Cortez.
The Pacific Leopard Flounder Sole is easy to identify due to its body shape and eye alignment and cannot be confused with any other species.
The Pacific Leopard Flounders are small and seldom seen by humans, thus of limited interest to most, however, they are a common by-catch of deep water shrimp trawlers.