Found worldwide, abalone were once common in temperate ocean waters with rocky bottoms. They are used for food and jewelry. Over 68 species of abalone occur on Earth and many of these are disappearing due to human influences as well as natural causes. This lesson will focus on the abalone of the West Coast of North America - their successes and failures.
Thanks for this section first go to Ben Beede and Dick Craig (owners of 'The Cultured Abalone' farm) who inspired my interest in abalone back in 1982 allowing me to bring my students to their first efforts to culture abalone. In 1983 Ben spent an entire day at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), lecturing to the Marine Biology class about abalone and then spending the afternoon in the lab, demonstrating spawning and dissection. They have been supportive of the 'abalone plants' by SBCC diving students in the late 1980s and now supply the marine biology class with examples of live abalone for an 'abalone lab' (much of which started its development with Ben's lecture in 1982 and is presented in this lesson).
Second thanks go to Dr. Dan Morse and his research group at UCSB. He has been a constant supporter of the SBCC educational programs and his landmark research with abalone has provided the basis for a lot of the information now known about abalone mariculture.
Third thanks go to Jim Marshall, former commercial abalone diver. Jim has contributed to the 'History and Future' section providing me with much needed information about the abalone fishery and recent developments.