Ocellated Turbot

Ocellated Turbot, Pleuronichthys ocellatus

The Ocellated Turbot, Pleuronichthys ocellatus, whose common Spanish name is platija ocelada is a member of the Righteye Flounder or Pleuronectidae Family, known collectively as platijas in Mexico. Globally, there are eight species in the genus Pleuronichthys, five of which are found in Mexican waters, all in the Pacific.

The Ocellated Turbots have elongated oval fusiform highly compressed bodies that are widest in the middle; their body depth is 46 to 50% of standard length. They are pale brown overall and covered with irregular white spots. They have one large black ocellated spot with a white ring located mid-back and a pair of two large blotches close to the margin of their disc and toward the rear of their anal and dorsal fins. Their blind side is off-white. Their head has relatively large eyes on the right side with the top eye preceding the lower eye. Their mouth is small and asymmetrical. Their anal fin has 44 to 49 rays; their caudal fin is small and rounded with a wide base; their dorsal fin has 61 to 72 rays; their pectoral fin on the eye-side has nine rays; and their pelvic fins are symmetrical and found on both sides of the body. They have 10 to 14 gill rakers and a straight lateral line that originates above their eyes.

The Ocellated Turbots are found demersal over and within sandy and muddy bottoms at depths up to 460 feet. They reach a maximum length of 24.0 cm (9.4 inches). They are opportunistic well-camouflaged ambush predators that lie in wait half-submerged on the ocean floor consuming crustaceans and small fish.  They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Ocellated Turbots have a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja and in the northern two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez.

The Ocellated Turbot can be confused with the C-O Sole, Pleuronichthys coenosus (no ocellus spots), the Diamond Turbot, Pleuronichthys guttulatus (diamond shaped, body depth 61 to 65%, no ocellus spots, small blue spots covering body), the Hornyhead Turbot, Pleuronichthys verticalis (body depth 51 to 55%, no ocellus spots, mottled dark blotches covering body), and the Spotted Turbot, Pleuronichthys ritteri (body depth 49 to 53%; three dark spots without a significant white boarder).

The Ocellated Turbots are caught primarily as a by-catch of deep water trawlers. They are very difficult to catch via hook and line due to their small mouths. They are a poorly documented and poorly studied species that is of limited interest to most.

Ocellated Turbot (1)Ocellated Turbot, Pleuronichthys ocellatus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, March 2015. Length: 13 cm (5.1 inches). Photo courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.

Ocellated Turbot (2)

Ocellated Turbot, Pleuronichthys ocellatus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, March 2015. Length: 13 cm (5.1 inches). Photo courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.