Pinto abalone (AKA: Northern abalone), Haliotis Kamtschatkana, have been installed in their own exhibit in Puget Sound Fish. This species is the only abalone native to the Northwest. Never commercially fished, the recreational fishery for them was closed in 1994 because of over-harvesting. Our abalone came to us from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and range in age from about 3 to 10 years or so. These kelp feeders have powerful radula that they use to feed on kelp and other algae. Besides humans, their primary predator is the Northern sea otter.
These spawning mollusks need to live in groups for successful reproduction, but their low numbers have kept most of the wild survivors separated. The SeaDoc Society is working with the University of Washington to study their genetics (there may actually be two species) and also with Canadian organizations to manage the wild populations.
Come see the new abalones at the Aquarium!