Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Common Sole Solea solea
Common sole are masters of camouflage and can subtly alter their color to match the sea bed on which they lie. The basic grayish brown color can be lightened or darkened and the pattern of darker splotches changed. Common sole have a rounded snout and a semicircular mouth and their head is fringed with short filaments, giving them an unshaven appearance. Like all flatfish, the common sole starts life as a tiny larval fish floating near the surface. As it grows, it gradually undergoes a radical metamorphosis. The eye on the left side moves around the head to join the eye on the right and the body starts to flatten. When the common sole is about a month old, it settles on the sea floor with its eyeless side facing down. The skin on the underside stays white but the upper side develops pigment. Although common sole can live to be nearly 30 years old, they are a valuable food fish and most are caught when only a few years old.