If you were to Google “Abalone” you would find many sites that discuss how threatened this Mollusk is or what amazing recipes that can be used for cooking these little guys up. So, I thought I would include some interesting facts about what is happening and maybe, just maybe you will get in there and help protect these guys.
Firstly, here are some facts about the Abalone;
- sexes are separate;
- they broadcast spawn, with the release of 10,000 eggs or more;
- eggs hatch as microscopic living larvae. it drifts with currents for about a week then the abalone larvae settle to bottom, if suitable habitat is located it may grow to adulthood, mortality still probably exceeds 99%; and
- predators, eggs, and larvae are eaten by filter feeding animals, juveniles are threatened by crabs, lobsters, octopi, starfish, fish and predatory snails, while larger adult abalone predators are fish such as the Cabezon, bat rays, and sea otters
In the last 20 years, the commercial catch of abalone worldwide has declined from 18,000mt to a little over 10, 000mt. Below are listed 6 major reasons for the decline. Number 5 (Illegal harvesting) is by far the largest and most important reason for the decline.
- Mortality of small abalone
- Over harvesting
- Competition, Sea urchins and other species, utilizing abalone food and living space
- Illegal harvesting
- Loss of habitat
Here is an exert from the Times Colonist discussing in-depth Illegal Harvesting, so be sure to take a read it is very interesting!
Poachers biggest threat to endangered abalone
DFO asks for the public’s help in watching for suspicious divers
By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist. March 20, 2010
The wetsuited killers often hang out in rocky inlets or deserted beaches, where there are few witnesses, but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is hoping eagle-eyed observers will help stop the destruction of a species.