Fun Winter Flounder Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 19, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi
Winter flounder facts are all about a unique fish of the Pleuronectidae family.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

Winter flounder is a group of right-sided flatfish that belongs to the genus Pseudopleuronectes. They are also known as the lemon sole and blackback flounder. They inhabit the Georges Bank, the Gulf of Maine, Duxbury Bay, Chesapeake Bay, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The preferred habitat of the adults is estuaries with sandy or gravel bottoms. They are 23 in (60 cm) in length and their entire population varies in color. The Georges Bank flounder has a darker reddish hue compared to fishes of other regions.

Their breeding season ranges from winter to early spring. The females lay around 500,000-1,500,000 eggs which are fertilized externally. The larvae and juveniles stay in coastal salt ponds and saltwater coves before migrating to the sea.

Winter flounder fishing occurs in harbors, estuaries, and on the shores of the gulf. The best time for fishing is during high tide, preferably from the early morning till late afternoon.

Mullets, crabs, and shrimps can be used as live baits on the fishing rod to attract it. Winter flounders are extremely delicious in taste. Read on to know more interesting facts about this fish.

If you liked reading this article, then do check out freshwater mussels and loaches!

Winter Flounder Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Winter Flounder?

The winter flounder is a flatfish belonging to the family Pleuronectidae. The adult fish has both eyes and mouth on the right-hand side of their head.

What class of animal does a Winter Flounder belong to?

Winter flounders belong to the class Actinopterygii. The scientific name of this species is Pseudopleuronectes americanus.

How many Winter Flounders are there in the world?

The exact population of this species is not known. They are commonly found in North America.

Where does a Winter Flounder live?

They are widely distributed on the Atlantic coast of North America. They inhabit the northern shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the strait of Belle Isle.

They are also found in the southern part of Newfoundland to the Chesapeake Bay. They reside in Ungava Bay in northern Labrador, the Gulf of Maine, Duxbury Bay, and the southern part of Grand Banks. They are also found in the Georges Bank and to the north of Delaware Bay.

What is a Winter Flounder's habitat?

These species are mostly found in estuaries. These are partially enclosed coastal bodies, having a connection to the sea, and containing brackish water.

They also inhabit the continental shelf which comprises part of a continent submerged under shallow water. They migrate to inshore shallow waters during the winter season and retreats to deeper waters in the bay, during summer. They usually prefer sandy, gravel, and eelgrass beds on the seafloor.

The larvae and juveniles are found in coastal salt ponds and saltwater coves. They can survive in a wide range of temperatures in late winter when the temperature falls closer to the freezing point to 64-66°F temperature during the summer months.

Who do Winter Flounders live with?

Not much is known about who they live with. However, it can be assumed that they migrate in pairs or groups.

How long does a Winter Flounder live?

They have a lifespan of 15-18 years.

How do they reproduce?

Their breeding season ranges from winter to early spring. The adults swim to shallow waters from the estuaries, during the breeding season.

Both the male and female move around in circles with their vent facing outwards. Fertilization is external and females usually lay around 500,000 - 1,500,000 eggs.

The eggs sink to the bottom of the seabed and stay together in clusters. The incubation period extends from 15-18 days and usually occurs at a temperature of 37-38° F.  After hatching, the larvae are characterized by a band of pigment cells that divides part of the body.

The larvae undergo metamorphosis very rapidly and transform into juvenile flounders. They reach reproductive maturity at about two to three years of age and migrate to deeper waters.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of winter flounders has not been listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The destruction of habitat, climate change, low genetic variability, and commercial fishing are some of the major threats they encounter.

Winter Flounder Fun Facts

What do Winter Flounders look like?

Winter Flounder on white background

The Winter Flounder population varies in color from one species to the other. They are reddish-brown, olive green, dark slate, or black.

They have a small head, a characteristic smallmouth, and are elliptical in shape. Around five to six weeks after hatching, their left eye moves to the right side of their head making them a right-eyed flatfish. The fins are either plane or mottled with small or large spots.

The Georges Bank flounder is generally more reddish in color than fishes of other regions. The blind side is generally white and translucent around the edge, with a bluish tinge. The caudal fins are yellow or white while the longer fins are pink, red, or yellow.

Small fishes are paler and more mottled than the larger ones. They have small teeth on the left side of each jaw.

How cute are they?

Their cuteness usually stems from their appearance. The presence of a small head, mottled fins, and contrasting colors on their body can make them seem attractive.

How do they communicate?

Like other fish, they communicate through motion and visual displays. They have good vision which helps them in locating prey. They also communicate through electrical impulses.

How big is a Winter Flounder?

Winter flounders are usually 23 in (60 cm) in length. They are shorter than European flounders (20 in), another member of the family Pleuronectidae.

How fast can a Winter Flounder swim?

Not much is known about their speed. They are usually quite motionless, however, they can swim rapidly over a few yards to catch their prey.

How much does a Winter Flounder weigh?

They usually weigh around 3-4.4 lb (1.3-2 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Scientists do not have specific names to refer to the male and female winter flounders. They are commonly referred to as male winter flounders and female winter flounders.

What would you call a baby Winter Flounder?

A baby winter flounder is known as a fry.

What do they eat?

Winter Flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) is omnivorous and feeds on a large variety of mollusks, worms, shrimps, amphipods, along with plants and seaweeds. Both larval and juvenile winter flounders eat calanoids, harpacticoids, polychaetes, and phytoplankton. The diet of the adults consists of crustaceans, annelids, fish, and bivalves.

Are they poisonous?

Winter flounders are known to bite and are considered to be semi-aggressive in nature. However, their bites are not dangerous or painful. These fish, like others, contain a small amount of mercury. Hence, they shouldn't be consumed in larger amounts by children or pregnant women.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, a winter flounder can make a good pet. They should be kept in large aquariums. The aquarium should not have any small fish inside it which can be viewed as prey by the winter flounder.

Did you know...

The body of the winter flounder changes in color, helping them to camouflage in the surrounding habitat. This is a unique adaptation to avoid predators.

How to tell the difference between summer and winter flounders

In winter flounder vs summer flounder, the head of the winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) faces the right side while that of the summer flounder (Paralichthys dentasus) faces the left. Also, the winter flounder has a darker hue with dark mottled patches on its body, hence the name blackback flounder.

Whereas the summer flounders are lighter in shade, they are usually light brown in color with white or cream spots.

Do winter flounders have teeth?

Winter flounders or lemon soles have teeth on the left side of each jaw. The teeth are smaller in size, unlike flukes that have a well-developed set of teeth. The winter flounders have small teeth that are barely visible. However, in spite of having small teeth, they bite their prey quite readily.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including lamprey facts and king salmon facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable fish coloring pages.

Winter Flounder Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Mollusks, Crustaceans, Fish, Annelids

What Type of Animal were they?

Omnivore

Average Litter Size?

500,000-1,500,000

How Much Did They Weigh?

3-4.4 lb (1.3-2 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

estuaries and continental shelf

Where Do They Live?

georges bank, gulf of st. lawrence, gulf of maine

How Long Were They?

23 in (60 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Actinopterygii

Genus

Pseudopleuronectes

Family

Pleuronectidae

Scientific Name

Pseudopleuronectes americanus

What Do They Look Like?

Reddish-Brown, Olive-Green, Black

Skin Type

Rough scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

humans, birds, spiny dogfish

What is their Conservation Status?

Not Listed
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi

Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Oluwapelumi Iwayemi picture

Oluwapelumi IwayemiBachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Iwayemi is a creative content writer and editor studying for a Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos. He is skilled in research and has experience writing and editing content for different organizations.

Read full bio >