Yellowfin Sole Research in Alaska

Yellowfin sole is one of the most abundant flatfish species in the eastern Bering Sea.

Yellowfin sole – Juvenile, 220 mm TL, Alaska Research

Juvenile Yellowfin sole.

Yellowfin sole (Limanda aspera) is one of the most abundant flatfish species in the eastern Bering Sea and a target of the largest flatfish fishery in the United States. It is found in North American waters from British Columbia to the Chukchi Sea and as far south as the Sea of Japan.

Our research has focused on the study of yellowfin sole growth, reproduction, diet, distribution, and juvenile habitat. We have learned that this fish is slow-growing reaching up to 45 cm in length and 39 years of age. Males become reproductive at about age 7 and females at about age 10, with females producing from 300,000 to 3.6 million eggs. Adults undergo annual spawning migrations of more than 500 km (1000 km round trip) from wintering grounds west and southeast of the Pribilof Islands to nearshore summer spawning grounds in Kuskokwim and Bristol bays. Juveniles live in shallow coastal waters and feed on small animals that live on or in the sandy sea bottom, mostly polychaetes (bristle) worms, shrimp-like amphipods, and clams.

Yellowfin sole are most abundant on the eastern Bering Sea shelf, where annual long-term research surveys have shown biomass to exceed 2 million tons over most years dating back to 1982. Research associated with these surveys has shown that yellowfin summer distributions differ among years depending on bottom temperatures which affect the timing of the yellowfin sole spawning migrations.

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