History of White Abalone
A Snail’s Tale: Timeline
Above, Pierce Brothers Abalone processing shop, CA. 1933. Copyright Pat Hathaway. Rogers-Bennett et al. 2002.
Abalone diving became wildly popular and advances in technology made abalone more accessible.
Karpov et al. 2000, “Serial depletion and the collapse of the California abalone (Haliotis spp.) fishery”
White abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) were once praised as the most tender and most expensive of the 7 species of California abalone. White abalone experienced a decade of intense overfishing.
Withering Syndrome arrives and causes large population declines in various species of abalone. See White Abalone Health
Reproductive failure: Abalone require that a male and female be within a few meters of each other, but the majority of wild white abalone are now too far from one another.
White abalone fishery closed
The white abalone was proposed as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
White abalone restoration plans begin, wild adults collected for captive breeding
Many agencies of the WARC teamed up to collect wild white abalone to be used for captive breeding. Success in captive breeding at Channel Islands Marine Resource Institute created more than 100,000 juvenile white abalone.
White abalone became the first marine invertebrate species to be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Right, photo credit Channel Island Marine Resource Institute
95% captive white abalone died from disease.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) deployed their first artificial reefs, known as “Baby Abalone Recruitment Traps”. These BARTs act as settlement platforms for larval abalone, so when we take them apart to survey each year we can find juvenile abalone and identify periods of successful abalone reproduction.
CDFW released the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan
NMFS published the White Abalone Recovery Plan, which listed captive propagation and wild population enhancement as a key step in the recovery strategy
Captive breeding moved to UCD-BML where the program was able to benefit from shellfish health expert Dr. Jim Moore, reproduction and development specialist Dr. Gary Cherr, and ecology expert Dr. Laura Rogers-Bennett.
Captive broodstock were kept at 5 separate facilities to take advantage of the diversity of expertise and public outreach opportunities, including the Aquarium of the Pacific, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory
First captive reproductive success in nearly a decade occurred during a spawning at UCSB!
2013 to Current
Repeated success! Captive production increased dramatically each year.
The White Abalone Restoration Consortium is continuing to support the effort to re-establish a sustainable population of white abalone.