Abalone Living abalone in tank showing epipodium and tentacles, anterior end to the right. Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Mollusca Class: Gastropoda (unranked): clade Vetigastropoda Superfamily: Haliotoidea Family: Haliotidae
Type species Haliotis asinina
66, see species section.
Marinauris Iredale, 1927
Nordotis Habe & Kosuge, 1964
Padollus Montfort, 1810
Sanhaliotis Iredale, 1929
Abalone (i// or //; from Spanish abulón), from (Rumsen) aulón, are small to very large-sized edible sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Haliotidae and the genus Haliotis. Common names for abalones also include ear-shells, sea ears, as well as muttonfish or muttonshells in Australia, ormer in Great Britain, perlemoen and venus's-ears in South Africa and pāua in New Zealand.
The family Haliotidae contains only one genus, Haliotis. That genus contains about four to seven subgenera. The number of species recognized worldwide is about 100.
The shells of abalones have a low and open spiral structure, and are characterized by several open respiratory pores in a row near the shell's outer edge. The thick inner layer of the shell is composed of nacre or mother-of-pearl, which in many species is highly iridescent, giving rise to a range of strong and changeable colors, which make the shells attractive to humans as decorative objects, and as a source of colorful mother-of-pearl.
The flesh of abalones is widely considered to be a desirable food, and is consumed raw or cooked in a variety of different dishes.
- 1 Description
- 2 Distribution
- 3 Structure and properties of abalone shell
- 4 Diseases and pests
- 5 Human use
- 6 Species
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The shell of abalones has a convex, rounded to oval shape, and may be highly arched or very flattened. It is generally ear shaped, presenting two to three whorls. The last whorl (known as the body whorl) is auriform such that the shell resembles an "ear", giving rise to the common name ‘ear-shell’. It also has a series of holes near the anterior margin, that are in fact respiratory pores that are used for the escape of water from the gills. There are four to ten of them, depending on the species. Abalones have no operculum.
The color of the shell is very variable from species to species, and may reflect the animal's diet. The iridescent nacre that lines the inside of the shell varies in color from silvery white, to pink, red and green-red, through to Haliotis iris, which shows predominantly deep blues, greens and purples.
These snails cling solidly with their broad muscular foot to rocky surfaces at sublittoral depths, although some species such as Haliotis cracherodii used to be common in the intertidal zone. Abalones reach maturity at a relatively small size. Their fecundity is high and increases with their size (from 10,000 to 11 million eggs at a time).
The larvae are lecithotrophic (i.e. feed off a yolk sac). The adults are herbivorous and feed with their rhipidoglossan radula on macroalgae, preferring red or brown algae. Sizes vary from 20 mm (Haliotis pulcherrima) to 200 mm (or even more) (Haliotis rufescens).
Approximately 1/3 of the weight of the animal is meat, 1/3 is offal, and 1/3 is shell..
The haliotid family has a worldwide distribution, along the coastal waters of every continent, except the Atlantic coast of South America, the Caribbean, and the East Coast of the United States. The majority of abalone species are found in cold waters, off the Southern Hemisphere coasts of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, and Western North America and Japan in the Northern Hemisphere.
However, the species of sea snail which is known in the sea food trade as the "Chilean abalone", Concholepas concholepas, is from another family altogether. It is not a true abalone at all, but a muricid, or rock snail.
Structure and properties of abalone shell
The shell of the abalone is exceptionally strong and is made of microscopic calcium carbonate tiles stacked like bricks. Between the layers of shells is a clingy protein substance. When the abalone shell is struck, the tiles slide instead of shattering and the protein stretches to absorb the energy of the blow. Material scientists around the world are studying the tiled structure for insight into stronger ceramic products such as body armor.
The dust created through the grinding and cutting of abalone shell is dangerous; appropriate safeguards must be taken to protect people from inhaling these particles. An N95-rated dust respirator, a ventilation system, and wet grinding are requirements to working abalone shell safely. The calcium carbonate dust is a respiratory irritant and the particles can penetrate into the lower respiratory tree and cause irritant bronchitis and other respiratory irritation responses. The usual symptoms are cough and sputum production, and secondary infections can occur. If there are proteins left in the shell matrix, it is also possible that they can trigger an allergic (asthmatic) attack. Allergic skin reactions can also occur.
Diseases and pests
Abalones are subject to various diseases. The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries said in 2007 that abalone viral ganglioneuritis, or AVG, killed up to 90% of stock in affected regions. Abalone are also severe hemophiliacs as their fluids will not clot in the case of a laceration or puncture wound. Polydorid polychaetes are known as pests of abalone.
The meat (foot muscle) of abalone is used for food, and the shells of abalone are used as decorative items and as a source of mother of pearl for jewelry and other decorative items
Farming of abalone began in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Japan and China. Since the mid-1990s, there have been many increasingly successful endeavors to commercially farm abalone for the purpose of consumption. Over-fishing and poaching have reduced wild populations to such an extent that farmed abalone now supplies most of the abalone meat consumed. The principal abalone farming regions are China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Abalone is also farmed in Australia, Hawaii, Canada, Chile, France, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States.
Abalone have long been a valuable food source for humans in every area of the world where a species is abundant.
The meat of this mollusk is considered a delicacy in certain parts of Latin America (especially Chile), France, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and East Asia (especially in China, Japan, and Korea). In Chinese speaking regions, abalone are commonly known as bao yu, and sometimes forms part of a Chinese banquet. Similar to shark fin soup or birds nest soup, it is considered a luxury item, and is traditionally reserved for special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations. However, the availability of commercially farmed abalone has allowed more common consumption of this once rare delicacy.
In Japan, live and raw abalone are used in awabi sushi, or served steamed, salted, boiled, chopped, or simmered in soy sauce. Salted, fermented abalone entrails are the main component of tottsuru, a local dish from Honshū. Tottsuru is mainly enjoyed with sake.
In California, abalone meat can be found on pizza, sautéed with caramelized mango or in steak form dusted with cracker meal and flour.
Tasmania supplies approximately 25% of the yearly world abalone harvest. Around 12,500 Tasmanians recreationally fish for blacklip and greenlip abalone. For blacklip abalone, the size limit varies from between 138 mm for the southern end of the state and 127 mm for the northern end of the state. Greenlip abalone have a minimum size of 145 mm, except for an area around Perkin's Bay in the north of the state where the minimum size is 132 mm. With a recreational abalone licence, there is a bag limit of 10 per day, and a total possession limit of 20. Scuba diving for abalone is allowed, and has a rich history in Australia. (Scuba diving for abalone in the states of New South Wales and Western Australia is illegal; a free-diving catch limit of two is allowed).
Sport harvesting of red abalone is permitted with a California fishing license and an abalone stamp card. New in 2008, the abalone card also comes with a set of 24 tags. Legal-size abalone must be tagged immediately. Abalone may only be taken using breath-hold techniques or shorepicking; scuba diving for abalone is strictly prohibited. Taking of abalone is not permitted south of the mouth of the San Francisco Bay. There is a size minimum of seven inches (178 mm) measured across the shell and a quantity limit of three per day and 24 per year. A person may be in possession of only three abalone at any given time.
Abalone may only be taken from April to November, not including July. Transportation of abalone may only legally occur while the abalone is still attached in the shell. Sale of sport-obtained abalone is illegal, including the shell. Only red abalone may be taken; black, white, pink, and flat abalone are protected by law.
An abalone diver is normally equipped with a thick wetsuit, including a hood, booties, and gloves, and usually also a mask, snorkel, weight belt, abalone iron, and abalone gauge. Alternatively, the rock picker can feel underneath rocks at low tides for abalone. Abalone are mostly taken in depths from a few inches up to 10 m (33 ft); less common are freedivers who can work deeper than 10 m (33 ft). Abalone are normally found on rocks near food sources (kelp). An abalone iron is used to pry the abalone from the rock before it can fully clamp down. Divers dive out of boats, kayaks, tube floats or directly off the shore.
There has been a trade in diving to catch abalones off parts of the United States coast from before 1939.
The largest abalone recorded in California is 12.34 inches, caught by John Pepper somewhere off the coast of Humboldt county in September 1993.
There is an extensive global black market in the collection and export of abalone meat. In New Zealand, where abalone is called pāua (from the Māori language), this can be a particularly awkward problem where the right to harvest pāua can be granted legally under Māori customary rights. When such permits to harvest are abused, it is frequently difficult to police. The legal recreational daily limit is 10 pāua per diver with a minimum shell length of 125 mm. The limit is strictly enforced by roving Ministry of Fisheries officers with the backing of the New Zealand Police. Pāua 'poaching' is a major industry in New Zealand with many thousands being taken illegally, often undersized. Convictions have resulted in seizure of diving gear, boats, and motor vehicles as well as fines and in rare cases, imprisonment. The Ministry of Fisheries expects in the year 2004/05, nearly 1,000 tons of pāua will be poached, with 75% of that being undersized.
Highly polished New Zealand pāua shells are extremely popular as souvenirs with their striking blue, green, and purple iridescence.
The largest abalone in South Africa, the perlemoen, Haliotis midae, occurs along approximately two-thirds of the country’s coastline. Perlemoen-diving has been a recreational activity for many years, but stocks are currently being threatened by illegal commercial harvesting. In South Africa all persons harvesting this animal need permits that are issued on a yearly basis, and no abalone may be harvested using scuba gear.
For the last few years, however, no permits have been issued for collecting abalone (perlemoen), but commercial harvesting still continues as does illegal collection by syndicates. In 2007, because of widespread poaching of abalone, the South African government listed perlemoen as an endangered species according to the CITES section III appendix, which requests member governments to monitor the trade in this species. This listing was removed from CITES in June 2010 by the South African government and South African abalone is no longer subject to CITES trade controls. Export permits are still required, however. The abalone meat from South Africa is prohibited for sale in the country to help reduce poaching; however, much of the illegally harvested meat is sold in Asian countries. As of early 2008, the wholesale price for abalone meat was approximately US$40.00 per kilogram. There is an active trade in the shells, which sell for more than US$1,400 per metric tonne. There is, however, speculation that local criminal gangs barter abalone illegally with Chinese nationals in exchange for chemicals used in the production of drugs, reducing the need for the use of money and hence avoiding money laundering difficulties.
Ormers (Haliotis tuberculata) are considered a delicacy in the British Channel Islands and are pursued with great alacrity by the locals. This has led to a dramatic depletion in numbers since the latter half of the 19th century, and 'ormering' is now strictly regulated in order to preserve stocks. The gathering of ormers is now restricted to a number of 'ormering tides', from January 1 to April 30, which occur on the full or new moon and two days following. No ormers may be taken from the beach that are under 80 mm in shell length. Gatherers are not allowed to wear wetsuits or even put their heads underwater. Any breach of these laws is a criminal offence and can lead to fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison. The demand for ormers is such that they led to the world's first underwater arrest, when Mr. Kempthorne-Leigh of Guernsey was arrested by a police officer in full diving gear when illegally diving for ormers.
The highly iridescent inner nacre layer of the shell of abalone has traditionally been used as a decorative item, in jewelry, buttons, and as inlay in furniture and in musical instruments such as guitars, etc.
Abalone pearl jewelry is very popular in New Zealand and Australia, in no minor part due to the marketing and farming efforts of pearl companies. Unlike the Oriental Natural, the Akoya pearl, and the South Sea and Tahitian cultured pearls, abalone pearls are not primarily judged by their roundness. Also, unlike other types of pearls, abalone pearls are not subjected to any type of processing, such as bleaching or buffing.
- Haliotis alfredensis Reeve, 1846- the Alfred's abalone – synonym: Haliotis speciosa Reeve, 1846, the splendid abalone
- Haliotis asinina Linnaeus, 1758 – the ass’s ear abalone
- Haliotis australis Gmelin, 1791 – the Austral abalone
- Haliotis brazieri Angas, 1869 – Brazier’s abalone – synonym: Haliotis melculus, the honey abalone
- Haliotis brazieri f. hargravesi (Cox, 1869) – synonym: Haliotis ethologus, the Mimic abalone, Haliotis hargravesi, the Hargraves’s abalone
- Haliotis clathrata Reeve, 1846
- Haliotis coccoradiata Reeve, 1846 – the reddish-rayed abalone
- Haliotis corrugata Wood, 1828 – the pink abalone
- Haliotis cracherodii Leach, 1814 – the black abalone
- Haliotis cracherodii californiensis
- Haliotis cracherodii cracherodii
- Haliotis cyclobates Péron, 1816 – the whirling abalone
- Haliotis dalli Henderson, 1915 – the Dall’s abalone
- Haliotis dalli dalli Henderson, 1915
- Haliotis dalli roberti McLean, 1970 – synonym: Haliotis roberti
- Haliotis discus Reeve, 1846 – the disk abalone
- Haliotis discus discus Reeve, 1846
- Haliotis discus hannai Ino, 1953
- Haliotis dissona (Iredale, 1929)
- Haliotis diversicolor – the variously coloured abalone – synonym: Haliotis aquatilis, the Japanese abalone
- Haliotis diversicolor diversicolor Reeve, 1846
- Haliotis diversicolor squamata Reeve, 1846 – synonym: Haliotis squamata – the scaly Australian abalone
- Haliotis diversicolor supertexta – the Taiwan abalone or jiukong
- Haliotis dringi
- Haliotis elegans Philippi, 1844
- Haliotis emmae – the Emma’s abalone
- Haliotis exigua
- Haliotis fatui Geiger, 1999
- Haliotis fulgens – the green abalone
- Haliotis fulgens fulgens Philippi, 1845
- Haliotis fulgens guadalupensis Talmadge, 1964
- Haliotis fulgens turveri Bartsch, 1942
- Haliotis gigantea Gmelin, 1791 – the giant abalone, Awabi
- Haliotis glabra Gmelin, 1791 – the glistening abalone
- Haliotis iris Gmelin, 1791 – the blackfoot abalone, rainbow abalone, or Pāua
- Haliotis jacnensis Reeve, 1846 – the Jacna abalone
- Haliotis kamtschatkana – the pinto abalone or northern abalone
- Haliotis kamtschatkana assimilis Dall, 1878 – synonym: Haliotis assimilis, the threaded abalone
- Haliotis kamtschatkana kamtschatkana Jonas, 1845
- Haliotis laevigata Donovan, 1808 – the Smooth Australian abalone or greenlip abalone
- Haliotis madaka (Habe, 1977)
- Haliotis mariae Wood, 1828
- Haliotis marfaloni – the Marfalo abalone
- Haliotis midae Linnaeus, 1758 – the Midas ear abalone, perlemoen abalone or South African abalone
- Haliotis mykonosensis Owen, Hanavan & Hall, 2001
- Haliotis ovina Gmelin, 1791 – the sheep's ear abalone
- Haliotis ovina volcanius Patamakanthin & Eng, 2007
- Haliotis ovina f. patamakanthini Dekker, Regter, & Gras, 2001 – synonym: Haliotis patamakanthini
- Haliotis parva Linnaeus, 1758 – the canaliculate abalone
- Haliotis planata – the planate abalone
- Haliotis pourtalesii Dall, 1881 – the Pourtale’s abalone
- Haliotis pourtalesii aurantium Simone, 1998
- Haliotis pourtalesii pourtalesii Dall, 1881
- Haliotis pulcherrima Gmelin, 1791 – the most beautiful abalone
- Haliotis pustulata Reeve, 1846
- Haliotis queketti E.A. Smith, 1910 – the Quekett’s abalone
- Haliotis roei Gray, 1826 – the Roe's abalone
- Haliotis rubiginosa Reeve, 1846 – synonym: Haliotis howensis, the Lord Howe abalone
- Haliotis rubra Leach, 1814 – the ruber abalone
- Haliotis rubra conicopora Péron, 1816 – synonym: Haliotis conicopora – the conical pore abalone
- Haliotis rubra rubra Leach, 1814 – synonym: Haliotis ancile the shield abalone
- Haliotis rufescens Swainson, 1822 – the red abalone
- Haliotis rugosa Lamarck, 1822 – synonym: Haliotis multiperforata, the many-holed abalone
- Haliotis scalaris (Leach, 1814) – the staircase abalone or ridged ear abalone
- Haliotis scalaris emmae Reeve, 1846
- Haliotis scalaris scalaris (Leach, 1814)
- Haliotis semiplicata Menke, 1843 – the semiplicate abalone
- Haliotis sorenseniBatsch, 1940 – the white abalone
- Haliotis spadicea Donovan, 1808 – the Blood-spotted abalone
- Haliotis squamosa Gray, 1826 – the squamose abalone
- Haliotis stomatiaeformis Reeve, 1846
- Haliotis supertexta Lischke, 1870
- Haliotis thailandis Dekker & Pakamanthin, 2001
- Haliotis tuberculata Linnaeus, 1758 – the green ormer, European edible abalone, tube abalone, or tuberculate ormer – synonyms: Haliotis varia, Variable abalone, Haliotis barbouri
- Haliotis tuberculata coccinea Reeve, 1846
- Haliotis tuberculata f. lamellosa Lamarck, 1822
- Haliotis tuberculata fernandesi Owen, Grace, & Afonso
- Haliotis tuberculata marmorata Linnaeus, 1758 – synonyms: Haliotis virginea – the Virgin abalone, Haliotis rosacea, the rosy abalone
- Haliotis tuberculata tuberculata Linnaeus, 1758
- Haliotis unilateralis Lamarck, 1822
- Haliotis varia Linnaeus, 1758
- Haliotis varia f. dohrniana Dunker, 1863 – synonym: Haliotis dohrniana Dunker, 1863
- Haliotis varia f. planata G.B. Sowerby II, 1882
- Haliotis virginea Gmelin, 1791
- Haliotis virginea crispata Gould, 1847
- Haliotis virginea huttoni Filhol, 1880
- Haliotis virginea morioria Powell, 1938
- Haliotis virginea stewartae Jones & Owen, 2004
- Haliotis virginea virginea Gmelin, 1791
- Haliotis walallensis Stearns, 1899 – the northern green abalone or flat abalone – synonym: Haliotis fulgens var. walallensis Stearns, 1899
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- Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Abalone". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Abalone: Species Diversity
- ABMAP: The Abalone Mapping Project
- Abalone biology
- Hardy's Internet Guide to Marine Gastropods : Shell Catalog
- book on crafting with Abalone Shell
- Imagemap of worldwide abalone distribution
- Oman’s Abalone Harvest
-  Pro abalone diver, Mallacoota, Victoria (1967)
-  Tathra NSW(1961), Abalone (1963)
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