Side – Swimming Wonders

From Issue: Discovery 1/1/2004

Like nearly all land animals, most fish have one eye on each side of their body—one on the left and one on the right. Fish known as halibut are no different, at least while still in the newly hatched larva stage. After emerging from one of the hundreds of thousands of eggs released by its mother, a young halibut begins life swimming in an upright position like most fish, with one eye on each side of the head. Very soon, however, a halibut goes through a major change. When it is about one inch long, the eye on the left side of its body moves over the snout to the right side. Halibut live this way the rest of their lives. (Can you imagine having both of your eyes on the right side of your nose?)

Other changes also occur when the halibut’s left eye moves to the right side of the snout. Directly around the eyes, changes are made to the skull bones, nerves, and muscles. Also, the eyeless side of the fish becomes more flattened and lighter in color, while the other side grows a little more rounded and darker in color. Finally, the developing fish turns over on its left side and begins swimming right-side-up. Both eyes are now on the top side of the fish, facing upwards. Such a change in swimming styles may not seem very effective to us, but halibut actually become very strong, successful swimmers, with some reaching ages of over fifty years.

Halibut grow to become the largest flatfish in the world, sometimes growing up to 81/2 feet long and weighing 500 pounds. In order to get so big, these strong, side-swimming wonders feed on such ocean life as crabs, clams, cod, rockfish, and octopus. At the same time, its size, active nature, and deep-sea habitat make halibut much less likely to be eaten by predators than other kinds of ocean-living creatures.

Halibut are just one of many amazing fish and sea creatures designed and created by God on the fifth day of Creation. Some-what similar to tadpoles that eventually change into frogs, the young halibut go through certain changes before becoming side-swimming wonders.


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