1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Turbot

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TURBOT[1] (Rhombus maximus or Psetta maxima), one of the largest and most valuable of the flat-fishes or Pleuronectidae. The turbot, which rarely exceeds a length of two feet, has great width of body, and is scaleless, but is covered with conical bony tubercles. The eyes are on the left side of the body, the lower being slightly in advance of the upper; the mouth is large and armed with teeth of uniformly minute size. The turbot is found all round the coasts of Europe (except in the extreme north), preferring a flat sandy bottom with from 10 to 50 fathoms of water. The broad banks off the Dutch coast are a favourite resort. It is a voracious fish, and feeds on other fish, crustaceans and molluscs. It seems to constantly change its abode, wandering northward during the summer, and going into deeper water in the cold season. The eggs of the turbot, like those of the majority of flat-fishes, are pelagic and buoyant. They are small and very numerous, varying from five to ten millions in fish of 18 to 21 ℔ weight. The young fish are symmetrical and swim vertically like the young of other Pleuronectids, but they reach a much larger size before metamorphosis than species of other genera, specimens from ¾ in. to 1 in. in length being frequently taken swimming at the surface of the water and not completely converted into the adult condition. Specimens one year old are from 3 to 45 in. long, some perhaps larger. About 1860 it was estimated that the Dutch supplied turbot to the London market to the value of £80,000 a year. In 1900 the total weight of turbot landed on English and Welsh coasts for the year was according to the Board of Trade returns 60,715 cwt. valued at £252,680. The turbot is also common, though not abundant, in the Mediterranean, and is replaced in the Black Sea by an allied species with much larger bony tubercles (Rh. maeoticus). Both species grow to a large size, being usually sold at from 5 to 10 ℔; but the common turbot is stated to attain to a weight of 30 ℔.

  1. The word “turbot” is of great antiquity, perhaps of Celtic origin; it is preserved in French in the same form as in English, and is composed of two words, of which the second is identical with the “but” in halibut and with the German “Butte,” which signifies flat-fish. The German name for the turbot is “Steinbutte.”