UK Flat fish species

The coastal waters surrounding the United Kingdom are home to a diverse and fascinating array of marine life, and among the most intriguing residents are flatfish. These unique creatures, known for their flattened bodies and camouflaging abilities, have adapted to various habitats and become sought-after catches for anglers. In this article, we’ll explore the seven different species of flatfish found around the UK, shedding light on their distinctive characteristics and where anglers can encounter these fascinating fish.

  1. Common Sole (Solea solea):

The common sole, or simply “sole,” is a delicate and highly prized flatfish found in the coastal waters around the UK. Recognizable by its diamond-shaped body, both of its eyes are positioned on the right side. This adaptation allows the sole to lie flat on the sandy or muddy seabed, waiting patiently for prey. Renowned for its delicious taste, the common sole is a popular target for anglers, especially in estuaries and shallow coastal areas.

  1. Plaice (Pleuronectes platessa):

Plaice are among the most recognizable flatfish, known for their distinctive orange spots on a brownish background. Found in a variety of habitats, including sandy and gravelly seabeds, plaice are opportunistic predators that feed on small invertebrates. They are commonly encountered by anglers along the UK coastline, and their striking appearance makes them a favorite catch for both recreational and commercial fishermen.

  1. Flounder (Platichthys flesus):

The flounder is a versatile flatfish found in estuaries, lagoons, and coastal areas around the UK. With an oval-shaped body and the ability to change color to match its surroundings, the flounder is a skilled ambush predator. As the fish matures, one eye migrates to the other side of its body, allowing it to lie flat on the seabed. This adaptation enhances its hunting capabilities, making the flounder a fascinating species for anglers.

  1. Turbot (Scophthalmus maximus):

The turbot is a larger and more robust flatfish, prized for its exquisite taste and culinary value. With a diamond-shaped body and a preference for sandy or muddy bottoms, turbot are known for their rapid bursts of speed when hunting. Found in deeper, clear waters, turbot are a prestigious catch for boat anglers. Successfully landing a turbot is considered a notable achievement among anglers due to their size and elusive nature.

  1. Dab (Limanda limanda):

Dab is a smaller flatfish commonly found in both shallow and deeper waters around the UK. Recognizable by its diamond shape and distinctive coloration, dabs are often encountered on sandy and muddy seabeds. While not as large as some of their flatfish relatives, dabs are abundant and contribute to a diverse range of catches for anglers along the UK coastline.

  1. Megrim (Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis):

The megrim is a lesser-known flatfish characterized by its diamond shape and pale brown or white coloration. Found in deeper waters, megrims are sometimes caught as bycatch during commercial fishing operations. While not as commercially popular as some other flatfish species, megrims add an element of diversity to the flatfish community in UK waters.

  1. Lemon Sole (Microstomus kitt):

The lemon sole is a smaller flatfish with a diamond-shaped body and a distinctive light-brown coloration. Found in a range of coastal habitats, including sandy and muddy areas, lemon soles are often encountered by anglers inshore. Despite their smaller size compared to other flatfish, lemon soles are appreciated for their delicate flavor and are a welcome catch for recreational fishermen.

Conservation Note:

While flatfish are popular targets for anglers and commercial fisheries, sustainable practices are essential to maintain healthy populations. Adherence to size limits, catch quotas, and seasonal closures helps ensure the conservation of these species and the overall health of marine ecosystems.


Exploring the seven different species of flatfish around the UK provides a captivating glimpse into the diverse marine life inhabiting the coastal waters. From the delectable common sole to the prestigious turbot, each flatfish species contributes to the rich tapestry of marine biodiversity. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or someone fascinated by the wonders of the sea, the UK’s coastline offers ample opportunities to encounter and appreciate these remarkable flatfish species.

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