Close-up of a Peacock Flounder - Kenting (21Mar10) C 139-2.jpg
Kenting, Taiwan -- Close-up of the periscopic eyes of a peacock flounder.
The flounder belongs to the Bothidae family, a mainly shallow-water tropical species that typically have both eyes on the left side.
Flounders go through astonishing stages of developmental biology: while the pelagic larval stage has the typical bilateral fish shape, the muscles, skin, bones and blood vessels change to the final flattened form during the benthic juvenile stage. During this metamorphosis, one eye migrates across the head until next to the other.
Their final pancake-like form allows them to bury themselves quickly and hide from predators in the sand. Only the 180-degree-rotating, periscopic eyes are exposed.
Through special cells (chromatophores) in their skin, flounders can change their skins texture and color based on visual clues from their surroundings, and are thus experts at camouflage.
It does take quite a bit of patience to get this close to them!