The turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) is a species of flatfish in the family Scophthalmidae. It is a demersal fish native to marine or brackish waters of the North Atlantic, Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Pleuronectiformes
Family: Scophthalmidae
Genus: Scophthalmus
S. maximus
Binomial name
Scophthalmus maximus


The word comes from the Old French tourbout, which in turn is thought to be a derivative of the Latin turbo ("spinning top") a possible reference to its shape.[2] Another possible origin of the Old French word is from Old Swedish törnbut, from törn "thorn" + -but "stump, butt, flatfish", which may also be a reference to its shape (compare native English halibut).[3] Early reference to the turbot can be found in a satirical poem (The Emperor's Fish) by Juvenal, a Roman poet of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries A.D., suggesting this fish was a delicacy in the Roman empire.

In English, turbot is pronounced /ˈtɜːrbət/ TUR-bət.[4] The French pronunciation of "turbot" is [tyʁbo].

In Turkey, where the fish is popular and expensive, it is called kalkan ("shield"), from its shape. Instead of a smooth skin, kalkan (Scophthalmus maeoticus), which is from the Black Sea, has small spikes on both sides; it is considered a subspecies of the Mediterranean turbot (Scophthalmus maximus).


The turbot is a large left-eyed flatfish found primarily close to shore in sandy shallow waters throughout the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the North Atlantic. The European turbot has an asymmetrical disk-shaped body, and has been known to grow up to 100 cm (39 in) long and 25 kg (55 lb) in weight.[5][6]


Turbot is highly prized as a food fish for its delicate flavour, and is also known as brat, breet, britt or butt. It is a valuable commercial species, acquired through aquaculture and trawling. Turbot are farmed in Bulgaria, France, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Turkey, Chile, Norway, and China.[7] Turbot has a bright white flesh that retains this appearance when cooked. Like all flatfish, turbot yields four fillets with meatier topside portions that may be baked, poached, steamed, or pan-fried.

Turbot War

In March and April of 1995, Canada and Spain were engaged in an international fishing dispute known as the Turbot War. The dispute was over the fishing of migratory Greenland turbot populations in the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, which straddled Canada’s exclusive economic zone and international waters. On March 9, officials from the Canadian Fisheries Patrol boarded the Spanish trawler Estia in international waters, arrested its crew, and escorted the vessel to St. John's, Newfoundland. The dispute was eventually resolved by negotiations and the trawler returned to its owners.


  1. Golani, D.; Kada, O.; Nouar, A.; Quignard, J.P. & Cuttelod, A. (2011). "Scophthalmus maximus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2011: e.T198731A9089507. Downloaded on 27 March 2018.
  2. Oxford English Dictionary, Turbot
  3. "turbot". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/turbot
  5. Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2009). "Psetta maxima" in FishBase. November 2009 version.
  6. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Turbot" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  7. Psetta Maxima Archived 2011-02-23 at the Wayback Machine Seafood Portal
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