English sole

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English sole
Parophrys vetulus 1.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Pleuronectiformes
Family: Pleuronectidae
Genus: Parophrys
Girard, 1854
P. vetulus
Binomial name
Parophrys vetulus
Girard, 1854
English Sole Distribution Map.png
Range of the English sole
  • Pleuronectes vetulus (Girard, 1854)
  • Parophrys hubbardii Gill, 1862
  • Pleuronectes digrammus Günther, 1862

The English sole (Parophrys vetulus) is a flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae. It is a demersal fish that lives on sandy and muddy bottoms in estuaries and near shore areas, at depths of up to 550 metres (1,800 ft). It reaches up to 57 centimetres (22 in) in length, and can weigh up to 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb). Its native habitat is the Eastern Pacific, stretching from the coast of Baja California in the south to the Bering Sea in the north.[1][2]

English sole is an important commercial fish, primarily caught off Washington, Oregon and California. Though biomass is increasing, catches have been declining since the 1960s and are currently almost at an all-time low.[3]

The English sole is known in Spanish as platija limón, or lemon sole, a name by which it is also known in English,[3][4] though the true lemon sole is a separate species, Microstomus kitt.


The genus name is derived from the Greek para, meaning "near", ophrys, meaning "eyebrow", and the species name vetulus is a word meaning "old man".[5]


The English sole is a right-eyed flatfish with a compressed, diamond-shaped body and a small head with a pointed snout and small, asymmetric mouth. The upper surface is covered in rough scales and is usually uniformly brown, but occasionally speckled; the lower surface is smooth, and white to pale yellow in colour. The dorsal and ventral fin edges are dark. The lateral line is mostly straight, but curves slightly around the pectoral fin.[6]


The English sole's diet consists of zoobenthos organisms, primarily marine worms, molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderms. English sole feed by day, using both sight and smell, and often dig for food.[1][2][3]

Commercial fishing[edit]

The English sole is an important commercial fish, and has been fished in the Eastern Pacific, almost exclusively by trawler, since 1876. Two fisheries exist: one on the West Coast of the United States, off Washington, Oregon and California, and one in the Bering Sea off Alaska. The majority of English sole landed is from the West Coast fishery.[2][3]

Although biomass is increasing, catches have been steadily decreasing since the 1960s - though catches peaked in the southern area in 1929 with 3,976 tonnes landed, and in the north in 1949 at 4,008 tonnes[2] - and have today almost reached a historical low. This decline is estimated to be due to a combination of market factors and management restrictions placed on trawlers in order to protect other bottom-dwelling species.[3]


  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2018). "Parophrys vetulus" in FishBase. April 2018 version.
  2. ^ a b c d Stewart, Ian J (25 May 2005). "Study of the US English sole resource 2005" (PDF). US National Marine Fisheries Service. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e "English Sole (Parophrys vetulus)". FishWatch. US National Marine Fisheries Service. Archived from the original on 26 December 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  4. ^ "Parophrys vetulus Girard, 1854". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  5. ^ "ENGLISH SOLE". Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. 16 December 1996. Archived from the original on 1 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  6. ^ "English sole". Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Bulletin No. 47. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Archived from the original on 7 August 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-11.