Haliotidae (Abalone) family

There are over 200 described species of abalone. The shell has a low, spiral structure with multiple respiratory pores arranged along the outer edge. The respiratory pores are used to bring water to and from the gills. During reproduction sperm and eggs exit through the pores. Older pores are closed over as new pores open. There are usually from 4 - 10 open pores at any one time. The beautiful inner shell is used commercially for jewellery and decoration, and the flesh is eaten. Certain species of abalone have been farmed commercially since the 1950s.

Below is the Staircase abalone or ridged ear abalone, Haliotis scalaris. This abalone may soon be farmed commercially off the west coast of Australia. In the wild it is found off the west and south-west Australian coast. A fully grown specimen can reach 11.5cm in width. It inhabits the intertidal zone down to around 50m deep, usually on rocks.

Staircase abalone, marine snail

Haliotis tuberculata, Green ormes

Haliotis tuberculata

Haliotis tuberculata, above, is found on rocky shores down to 40m deep around the Channel Islands, the Atlantic coast and in the Mediterranean. It reaches up to 9 x 6.5cm. It is eaten by humans, and this has led to population declines in some areas. It feeds on algae mainly at night- often red algae as seen in the photograph above. Its life span is up to 6 years, but it is not sexually mature until it is 3 years old.

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