Habitat and Geography

Bothus lunatus is found in many tropical and sub-tropical locations in the Atlantic Ocean (Miller et al. 1991). In the eastern waters of the Atlantic Ocean, B. lunatus is often found off Ascension Island and the Gulf of Guinea. However, it is more commonly found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Florida, Bermuda, and the Bahamas south to Brazil. It is not found in the Gulf of Mexico (Florida Museum of Natural History 2013).
The Peacock Flounder likes shallow waters, where it is able to camouflage against the bottom. To learn more about this flounder's ability to camouflage, visit the form and function page. The clear sandy areas this flounder inhabits could include mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs, and rubble fields (Shedd Aquarium 2006; Florida Museum of Natural History 2013). Although it is most commonly found between depths of 1 and 64m, B. lunatus has been known to reach depths of 100m (Miller et al. 1991; Florida Museum of Natural History 2013).
Diverse coral reef, photo from WikipediaB. lunatus is the most common flounder found in coral reefs, an ecosystem that is exponentially diverse (Florida Museum of Natural History 2013). In fact, coral reefs support such a high level of biodiversity that they are often referred to as the “rainforests of the sea”. To the right you can see a picture demonstrating the great diversity found in coral reefs.

Coral reefs are built upon a structure of multiple species of coral piled on top of one another. Each species has a distinct shape and as layer builds upon layer, coral reefs become more and more complex. Several species of algae and sponges, such as the sponges Cryptotethya crypta and Plakortis simplex, grow on the reef surface and add to its complexity. This diverse reef surface contains many sources of shelter and food, so it provides an ideal haven for various organisms. Fish, turtles, rays, sharks, eels, crabs such as the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab, shrimps, urchins, bioluminescent ostracods like Photeros annecohenae, sponges, and algae are some of the creatures that can be found in coral reefs. Even among these organisms, there is a plethora of variation. For example, coral reef fish can range in size from just a few centimeters to over 1 meter in length (McGraw-Hill Education 2013).

Colorful coral reef, photo from WikipediaThe large amount of biodiversity of coral reefs stems from the competition for resources such as water, carbon dioxide, minerals, light, and space. Equilibrium is very difficult to reach in a coral reef since species are constantly evolving in attempt to out-compete one another. This continuous competition and evolution is what leads to high biodiversity in coral reefs (Connel 1978). To learn how the Peacock Flounder interacts with the high diversity of coral reefs, feel free to visit our interactions page.

 B. lunatus has several adaptations that help it compete in this rigorous environment. Some of these adaptations include its raised eyes, its swimming style, and its ability to bury itself in the sand and change colors in order to camouflage with the surroundings. If you would like to learn more about how B. lunatus has adapted its form and function to fit its environment, click here.

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