Plaice

Plaice ©Julie Hatcher

Plaice

Scientific name: Pleuronectes platessa
Plaice is a common sight all around our coasts - if you can spot it! They are extremely well camouflaged against the seabed and can even change colour to better match their surroundings.

Species information

Statistics

Length: normally up to 50cm

Conservation status

Classified as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework and is listed as of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

When to see

January to December

About

Plaice is a diamond-shaped flatfish that lives on sandy seabeds all around the UK. Younger fish are found close to shore and in estuaries which are an important nursery habitat as they grow. Plaice feed on molluscs and worms - often nipping the siphons or tail ends off buried prey. Their mottled colouration provides excellent camouflage against sandy seabeds and are often only spotted once they move. They have characteristic orange spots all over the top side of their body - a helpful feature when trying to differentiate between flatfish species.

How to identify

There are several species of flatfish in UK seas. Plaice can be identified by their distinctive orangey spots.

Distribution

Found all around our coasts, also found in estuaries up to the limit of tidal influence.

Did you know?

Flatfish start life looking like a normal fish. As they grow, they begin to change - with one eye migrating over to the other side of the head. As adults, flatfish are essentially fish on their side. Plaice are right-eyed, meaning both eyes are on what was originally the fish's right side. Other species can be left or right-eyed. For example, the Turbot is left-eyed.

How people can help

Plaice are a commercially important species and are under threat from overfishing. You can help by being careful about what you choose in the supermarket - avoid Plaice caught by pulse fishing and opt for locally caught Plaice where possible. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.