Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

previous  | next

Pacific Halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis


enlarge +

Pacific Halibut
credit: La Jolla/CCSA

All Images


Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Family: Pleuronectidae, Righteye Flounders view all from this family

Description The Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) is found on the continental shelf of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering sea. They are demersal, living on or near the bottom. The halibut is among the largest teleost (bony) fish in the world. Halibut are strong swimmers and are able to migrate long distances. Halibut size is age and sex-specific, but also follows a cycle that has been related to halibut and other species abundance.

Pacific halibut have diamond-shaped bodies. Halibut have both eyes on their dark or upper side. The color adaption allows halibut to avoid detection from both prey and predator. Being strong swimmers, halibut are able to eat a large variety of fishes such as cod, turbot, pollock, and some invertebrates such as crab and shrimp. Most spawning takes place off the edge of the continental shelf in deep waters about 200 to 300 fathoms (1,200 to 1,800 ft; 370 to 550 m). At six months of age, the young have their adult form and are about 1.4 inches (3.6 cm) long. Young halibut, up to 10 years of age, are highly migratory. Older, reproductively mature halibut move seasonally across areas and between shallower and deeper waters during and around the winter reproductive season. The oldest halibut on record (both males and females) are 55 years old based on otolith (ear bone) measurements.

Dimensions Up to 8'9" (2.7 m); 800 lbs (363 kg).

Habitat Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Ocean or bay shallows, Open ocean.

Range California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska.