Sea Life | | December 23, 2010 at 09:00

Abalone shell with sea star, photo by Terry Lilley

Hello Ocean Lovers!

Every Other Breath is From the Ocean

Here is a critter from our San Luis Obispo County coastal waters for you to enjoy!
Thank you for your interest in the Central Coast Extension of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


Abalone Haliotis sp

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium: www.montereybayaquarium.org

An Abalone is a snail, an invertebrate, with a big muscular foot, covered for protection by a beautiful spiral shell 5-12 inches (13-30 cm) in size . The shell has several holes along the edge that function for releasing eggs or sperm, discharging metabolic wastes and allowing water to flow out after passing through the animal’s gill chamber. Rarely moving, and clinging to rocks, abalone eat seaweed by clamping down on the kelp with its foot and then munching on the seaweed with its radula—a rough tongue with many small teeth.
Once supporting huge commercial and sport fisheries and abundant 30 years ago, abalone face extinction due to overfishing and disease. The white abalone is officially listed as an endangered species. To protect abalone, strict fishing laws have been enacted. For example, laws prohibit commercial abalone fishing, and sport fishermen may take only red abalone—with a limit of three animals per day, and a total of 24 animals a year. Many more restrictions apply to abalone fishing.

In the U.S., commercial fishing for abalone has ceased and sustainable farmed abalone is now available. San Luis Obispo County has a successful abalone farm in Cayucos.