When you think of the California coast you naturally think of its beautiful beaches and abundant sea-life – but one coastal creature is in need of a helping hand. For centuries, abalone has played an important ecological and cultural role in the area, but todaysome abalone species have decreased by as much as 99.9 percent! This makes abalone the first California marine invertebrate ever protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). There are several reasons behind this modern day dilemma; extensive harvesting, tropic shifts and a disease known as “withering syndrome” have all affected this natural resource. White and black abalone species are endangered – and green, pink, and pinto abalone varieties are all listed as “Species of Concern.”
In order to help improve the abalone populations, the Aquarium of the Pacific is developing a ground-breaking new system that will allow it to take the lead in providing creative and effective educational programs focused on species conservation. The first of its kind in California, the new abalone culture systemis in the midstofa 2-year certification process deeming that their tanks are sabellid-free. Sabellid worms often infest and weaken the shells of California abalone, causing deformities and reducing growth rates and production.
In addition, the Aquarium has created an interactive educational display to inform the general public of its role in helping to conserve abalone. By raising awareness and promoting stewardship of our coastal ecosystems, this program offers hope to these valuable marine invertebrates. To find out more about the program, please visit www.aquariumofpacific.org.