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Pleuronectes platessa, a ghost fish in the Mediterranean Sea?
Jordi Lleonart and Henri Farrugio

European plaice Pleuronectes platessa often appears in ichthyological check lists for the Mediterranean Sea, as well as in regional field guides and even in some official national landings statistics. However we have not found a single ichthyologist or fisheries biologist who has actually observed this fish in the Mediterranean. The ichthyologic sources available, from classical antiquity to recent times, were checked in order to follow the track of the citations (i.e. true field observations or citations of former authors), and to try to detect misidentifications, if any. Few of these citations appear to be reliable and misidentifications with flounder Platichthys flesus are frequent. Recent scientific trawl surveys have not reported any observations of plaice. The statistics provided by France to the FAO with positive catches of P. platessa appear to be misidentifications of P. flesus. Plaice may have been present in some areas of the Mediterranean in the past, as a result of climatic changes related to the ice age. However, the species seems to be absent now. We propose that this species should be removed from the ichthyofauna records of the Mediterranean.

Keywords: Pleuronectes platessa, plaice, Mediterranean Sea, Pleuronectidae
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 76(1) : 141-147 Back PDF
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