Category Europe – temperate

European plaice

Pleuronectes platessa

The European Plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) is a member of the order of Pleuronectiformes (flatfish), which also includes soles and other flounders.

It is generally recognised as the most important flatfish for commercial fisheries in Europe. Widely distributed in the Northeast Atlantic, it can be found from Greenland and Norway in the North to Morocco in the south, in temperate waters ranging from 2 – 15°C, with the Wadden Sea being reported as an excellent nursery area.

This species lives on mixed bottoms, tending to go deeper as it ages, with smaller individuals being encountered on bathing beaches. It is active at night, in shallow water, feeding on thin-shelled mollusks and polychaetes (marine worms), spending the day buried in the sand...

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Pecten maximus and Chlamys islandica

Scallops are bivalve molluscs with scalloped, fan-shaped shells (valves) whose shape and colour have inspired artists, architects and designers for centuries.

The shells are further characterized by radiating ribs or grooves and concentric growth rings. Near the hinge, where the two valves (shells) meet, the shell flares out on each side to form small “wings”. Just inside each valve along the edge of the mantle there a row of short sensory tentacles and a row of small blue eyes.

A single adductor muscle, sometimes called the ‘eye’ in culinary circles, opens and closes the two valves. Because they are active swimmers, the adductor muscle is more developed in the scallop than in oysters and clams...

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John Dory

Zeus faber

The John Dory (Zeus faber) is a distinctive fish with a worldwide distribution. In the Eastern Atlantic it can be found from Norway to South Africa and also in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. In the Western Pacific it occurs in the waters of Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

These thin, deep-bodied predatory fish are weak swimmers, with an oval flat body and large spiny head. Their normal strategy is to stalk their prey head on, using their thinness to their advantage, before extending their large oblique a mouth to suck in an unwary victim.

This species is dark brown as juveniles and silvery as adults. There is a large dark grey blotch ringed with white on the side of the body. This blotch gives rise to one of the common names for this species, St Peter’s fish...

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Mussels are marine molluscs of the class Pelecypoda, which means hatchet-foot. They are filter-feeding bivalves, having a shell consisting of two valves, or movable pieces, hinged by an elastic ligament. Within the shell there is a fleshy layer of tissue called the mantle with a cavity (the mantle cavity) between the mantle and the body wall proper. The mantle secretes the layers of the shell, including the inner nacreous, or pearly, layer. Nacreous layers can also be formed around a foreign body in reaction to irritation. A muscular hatchet-shaped foot projects from the front end of the mollusc, between the valves. This foot is used for burrowing, and, in some bivalves (e.g., razor clams), to swim.

Bivalves differ in their habits: some, such as the oysters and marine mu...

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Lobsters, like shrimps and crabs, are decapods – literally meaning 10 legs – and can be found in all of the world’s tropical and sub-tropical seas as well as more temperate waters. They are predatory, nocturnal animals with a vividly decorated coat. They are often numerous locally; they linger in crevices (with their long antennae sticking out) during the day and hunt small benthic organisms at night, but they also feed on organic detritus whenever they happen across it. As with all crustaceans, the lobster moults or sheds its shell to grow.

Up until the end of the 19th century lobster was so plentiful that it was often used as fish bait. Sadly, with lobster’s ever-increasing popularity those days are now gone forever...

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