Common dab

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Common dab
Limanda limanda.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Pleuronectiformes
Family: Pleuronectidae
Genus: Limanda
Species: L. limanda
Binomial name
Limanda limanda
Common Dab Limanda limanda distribution map.png
Common dab range.[2]
  • Pleuronectes limanda Linnaeus, 1758
  • Liopsetta limanda (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Pleuronectes limandula Bonnaterre, 1788
  • Limanda vulgaris Gottsche 1835

The common dab (Limanda limanda) is an edible flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae. It is a demersal fish native to shallow seas around Northern Europe, in particular the North Sea, where it lives on sandy bottoms down to depths of about 100 metres (330 ft). It can reach 40 centimetres (16 in) in length and can weigh up to 1 kilogram (2.2 lb), though most specimens grow no longer than 20 centimetres (7.9 in).[3][4]

Taxonomy and nomenclature

The etymology of the name dab is unclear, but the modern English use seems to originate from the Middle English dabbe.[5] It is first recorded in the late 16th century.[6]

The common dab was first named Pleuronectes limanda by Carl Linnaeus in the 1758 10th edition of Systema Naturae. It has also been moved to other genera, including Liopsetta, and is now known as Limanda limanda.[7]


Common dab caught while fishing

The common dab has a similar appearance to both the plaice and the flounder, and similarly has both its eyes normally on the right-hand side of its body. The upper surface is usually pale brown in colour with scattered darker blotches and speckles, but does not have the orange spots typical of a plaice. They are distinguished from flounder by their translucent body. The pectoral fins may be orange. The lateral line is marked by a distinctive semi-circular curve above the pectoral fin. The dorsal and anal fins form a gently rounded curve round the margin of the body. The scales have rough posterior edges and this fish has no large bony projections. A typical size is in the range 25 to 40 cm (10 to 16 in).[4][8]


The common dab's diet consists of zoobenthos organisms such as marine worms, molluscs, sand eels, amphipods, crustaceans, echinoderms and small pieces of fish.[4]


The common dab is a bottom dweller, found in coastal waters in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Its range extends from the Bay of Biscay to Iceland and the White Sea and includes the North Sea and the western part of the Baltic Sea.[9]

Commercial fishing

The dab is an abundant fish and until recently was mostly ignored as a commercial fish, with most dab only retained when they were caught as by-catch of other targeted species.[10][11] However, the declining numbers of other food fish such as cod and haddock has seen dab become an increasingly important commercial species.[12] They are now targeted by an increasing number of commercial vessels, especially in the North Sea. A number of high-profile celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver have attempted to get people to eat more dab in order to take the pressure off the species of commercial fish which are currently heavily exploited.[13]


  1. ^ Monroe, T.; Costa, M.; Nielsen, J.; Herrera, J. & de Sola, L. (2004). "Limanda limanda". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2014: e.T18214863A45790133. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T18214863A45790133.en. Downloaded on 25 March 2018.
  2. ^ International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2014. Limanda limanda. In: IUCN 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-06-27. Retrieved 2011-01-24.. Downloaded on 23 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Limanda limanda". Fishbase. 15 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2 March 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  4. ^ a b c Picton, B.E.; Morrow, C.C. (2005). "Limanda limanda". Encyclopaedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Habitas Online. Archived from the original on 2 August 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  5. ^ "dab". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  6. ^ "dab". Random House Unabridged Dictionary. Random House. 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  7. ^ "Synonyms of Limanda limanda". Fishbase. 7 May 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  8. ^ "Dab: Limanda limanda". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  9. ^ "Species factsheet: Limanda limanda". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  10. ^ Burton, Maurice; Burton, Robert (2002). "Dab". The international wildlife encyclopedia. 10. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 634–5. ISBN 978-0-7614-7266-7.
  11. ^ North Sea Task Force (1993). North Sea quality status report 1993. Fredensborg, Denmark: Olsen and Olsen. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-872349-07-7.
  12. ^ "Dab". British Sea Fishing. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  13. ^ "Mediterranean-style Dab". Retrieved 8 May 2014.

External links

  • Media related to Limanda limanda at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Limanda limanda at Wikispecies
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