Giant halibut, northern halibut, hali (Canada), barn door; Japanese: ohyô; Portuguese: alabote do Pacifico; Spanish: fletán del Pacifico.
Halibut are usually dextral, meaning both eyes are on the right side of the head. Its coloration ranges from olive to dark brown or black with lighter irregular spots. More elongated than other flatfish, the body of the Pacific halibut is medium wide, being about a third of its length. The mouth is large, extending to the lower eye. The fine, smooth scales are well recessed in the skin, and the lateral line has a pronounced arc over the pectoral fin. The tail is crescent-shaped, longer at the tips than in the middle, which distinguishes it from most other flounders.
Pacific halibut inhabit the continental shelf of the North Pacific and have also been recorded along the coast of North America from central California to Nome, Alaska. They live on or near the bottom and have been caught at depths of up to 3,600 feet, although most are caught in the summer when they are 75 to 750 feet deep. In the fall and winter, they usually return to deeper water.
Preferring cool water (37° to 46 °F), halibut are most often found where the bottom consists of cobble, gravel, and sand, especially near the edges of underwater plateaus and breakaway lines.
Typical halibut range in length from 28 to 50 inches and weigh from 10 to 60 pounds. Record catches on rod and reel include several halibut weighing over 400 pounds (the all-tackle record is 459 pounds), and 500-pound specimens have been caught commercially. The largest specimens are females, as males rarely weigh more than 90 pounds.
Life history and Behavior
Spawning occurs in the North Pacific and Bering Sea during the winter. Eggs and larvae swim freely in the ocean current for 6 months, settling to the bottom in shallow coastal waters, and migrate counterclockwise across the Pacific Ocean, reaching their spawning grounds by mature age.
Food and feeding habits
Halibut lie on the bottom and wait for tidal currents to wash food within reach. They are good swimmers and may leave the bottom to feed on pelagic fish such as herring and sand lance. They also inhabit almost anywhere crab, squid, octopus, cod, pollock, or other food is abundant.
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