What are abalone?



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    Abalone are a large class of mollusks having a rounded or oval one-piece shell. They have a muscular foot with strong suction power permitting the abalone to clamp tightly to rocky surfaces. There are nine species of abalone in North America alone.

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    Abalone are very large sea snails with shells that are characterized by their large size, respiratory holes, and mother-of-pearl interior. Their desirability as a food and decorative item has resulted in the need for harvesting limits and protective efforts.

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    Abalone are sea snails from a class of Molluscs called Gastropoda. They have large one-piece shells that are a variety of colors and have a beautiful iridescence on the inside. There are 100 different species found in the coastal waters. Abalone feed on algae and are food for a variety of marine animals at different life stages. Sea otters are famous for successfully opening tough abalone shells. People often eat abalone raw or cooked in soups. Abalone are harvested for food, shells and pearls and overharvesting has led to depleted populations.

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    I think its worth adding that despite its prevalence elsewhere, white abalone populations in the US are considered critically low. By the year 2000, eight years of fishing had resulted in the species coming “close to biological extinction” (NOAA). In the United States, white abalone is classified as endangered,  though its high market price (nearly $85 per pound) acts as a significant incentive for poaching.

    A white abalone:

    And an example of an abalone shell:

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