January 23, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Restoring Abalone in Santa Monica Bay

Once thriving marine snail under threat.

By Brianna Kwasnik

Gone are the days where freedivers or scuba-divers can collect abalone in Southern California.

Deep in the crevices of the rocks on the reefs live Abalone, a common name for a group of small to very large sea snails. The Santa Monica Bay was once thriving with seven different species: red, pink, green, white, black, pinto and flat. However, according to The Bay Foundation, due to severe over-harvesting and a disease called withering syndrome, the species have been on the decline since the late 90’s.

The abalone have a vital role in the marine ecosystem, as they have predators that feed off them. They are herbivores and feed off drift algae, which frees up space for other types of algae to live in the reefs, researcher and Cal State Fullerton graduate student, Marissa Velarde Wu said.

Marine Biologist Nancy Caruso works with large green abalone and out-planting them to restore their numbers.

“Abalone was as iconic [in Southern California] as lobster is in Maine, so you could get them in virtually every restaurant in a beach town,” Caruso said on KPCC’s “Take Two” podcast. “They taste really good, so they were doomed as soon as humans started liking them.” 

The Bay Foundation is an organization that has been actively working to restore the abalone to the Santa Monica Bay since 2010. This work includes scientific monitoring, extensive research, deck spawning and outplanting.

People used to go down to the tide to collect them recreationally to barbecue. The shells have also commonly been used for decoration or using the mother of pearl found inside the shell for jewelry, art pieces or fishing hooks.

They may not look like what you would typically think of when you think of a snail. The shell of the abalone varies depending on the species. Their shape can be oval or round, highly arched or flat.

According to the Fish and Game Code, in the state of California, is illegal to take, possess, or land abalone for commercial or recreational purposes. Fishing licenses for abalone are reserved for researchers or aquaculturists intending to collect abalone for broodstock.

You may still find abalone listed on a seafood menu, as there are aquaculture farms in the area that provide it to restaurants.

“Overall, it’s a good idea to know where your seafood comes from,”  Velarde Wu said. “If you see red abalone in a tank and they’re selling them, find out where it comes from. As a consumer, you’re allowed to ask these things.”

A green abalone. Photo: The Bay Foundation.

The stores are accountable, and consumers can decide whether or not they want to shop at a given location based on their sustainability record, Velarde Wu explained.

“People have a big impact on restaurants and what they serve you,” Velarde Wu said.

The white and black species of abalone are currently both considered endangered, while the rest are either threatened or labeled species of concern.

The Bay Foundation amped up their efforts for abalone restoration in 2016, creating an abalone research lab at the Southern California Marine Institute in San Pedro. In the lab, they currently have the red and green species. They have been growing juveniles, so they can out-plant them.

Heather Burdick, marine programs manager at TBF said they are soon hoping to bring in the endangered white abalone species. They have been searching for the best habitats in the Palos Verdes Peninsula to out-plant them back into the wild and increase the populations in our area.

A large portion of the kelp forests have been decimated by purple urchins, Burdick said. They attack the kelp plant and eat it from the bottom. While abalone also feed on kelp, they wait in crevices of the rocks, waiting for kelp to come by. Burdick said they’re not as devastating to the kelp as the urchins are, and having abalone on our reefs can help to make them more sustainable.

“Be mindful of where you’re stepping,” Burdick cautioned “they only live on rocky areas, but if you’re out tide pooling, there’s a chance there could be abalone on the rocks.”

She recommends divers and beach-goers tread lightly in tide pools.

To learn more about The Bay Foundation and their abalone restoration efforts, you can visit santamonicabay.org.

in News
Related Posts

Preliminary Injunction Granted to Halt Demolition Of Parking Structure 3

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

January 24 hearing set following LA Superior Court Judge ruling By Dolores Quintana The Santa Monica Bayside Owners Association’s (SMBOA)...

Westside Home Prices Rising?

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

Redfin report shows 11.1 percent increase in median home prices By Dolores Quintana Are Westside home prices rising?  On the...

Film Review: “Don’t Look Up”

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

FILM REVIEWDON’T LOOK UPRated R138 MinutesReleased December 24th As with other Adam McKay movies, such as Vice and The Big...

Anti-Vaccine and Mask Rally Coming to Santa Monica This Weekend

January 20, 2022

January 20, 2022

Ocean Avenue protest will draw 300-400 people Saturday By Sam Catanzaro 300-400 people are expected to attend an anti-vaccine and...

Popular Taco Spot Coming to Santa Monica

January 19, 2022

January 19, 2022

Tacos Tu Made opening in former Obica space By Dolores Quintana A popular taco spot is opening its first Santa...

Arrest Made in Murder of Brianna Kupfer

January 19, 2022

January 19, 2022

Shawn Laval Smith in police custody By Sam Catanzaro Police have arrested a man suspected of the murder of Brianna...

Police Say Suspect in Brianna Kupfer Murder Case Has Been Seen in Santa Monica

January 19, 2022

January 19, 2022

UPDATE: Shawn Laval Smith, the suspect responsible for the murder of Brianna Kupfer is in custody, after being located and...

160 Santa Monica City Employees Have Confirmed COVID Infections

January 19, 2022

January 19, 2022

Public Works employees record most cases among workforce By Dolores Quintana Among Santa Monica city employees there are a total...

Effort to Recall LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin Falls Short

January 19, 2022

January 19, 2022

Final tally 1,350 signatures short of required amount  By Dolores Quintana The group that attempted to recall Los Angeles City...

World’s Largest Wildlife Crossing Set to Break Ground

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Crossing over the 101 Freeway set to break ground this spring By Sam Catanzaro The world’s largest wildlife crossing will...

Santa Monica Unified Among Top School Districts in California

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

SMMUSD earns high marks in Niche survey By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) is among the...

Los Angeles Homeless Count Postponed Amid COVID-19 Surge

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

LAHSA count to take place February 23 for Westside By Sam Catanzaro On Friday, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority...

Anti-Semitic Fliers Linking Jewish People to Anti-Vaxx Movement Posted at Santa Monica Schools

January 17, 2022

January 17, 2022

Police investigation incidents at Eddison, Will Rogers, McKinley and Grant elementary schools By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica police are investigating...

Demolition Delayed For Parking Lot 3 Due to Injunction: Santa Monica Beat – January 17th, 2022

January 17, 2022

January 17, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.*  New Covid Policies For SMMUSD Unvaccinated Students*  Demolition Delayed For Parking Lot...

Tsunami Leaves Santa Monica Undamaged

January 17, 2022

January 17, 2022

Volcanic explosion in Tonga sends small tsunami to West Coast over the weekend By Sam Catanzaro A tsunami that reached...