Diving 104: Abalone Diving Basics


Abalone Facts
Abalone [ah bal ohn ee] or [ah ba lone ee] (plural: abalone) are sometimes called ab (sigular slang) or abs (plural slang). Abalone are heavy shelled mollusks (cousin to garden snails and built like half a clam).

Abs have a basic design. A hard protective shell covers all vital organs. Respiration occurs through a row of respiratory pores. The muscular foot has a strong suction power permitting the abalone to clamp mightily to rocky surfaces. A column of shell muscle attaches the body to its shell. The mantle circles the foot as does the epipodium, a sensory structure and extension of the foot which bears tentacles. The epipodium projects beyond the shell edge in the living animal. The epipodium surface may be smooth or pebbly in appearance and its edge may be frilly or scalloped. It is the most reliable structure for identifying abalone species.

The internal organs are arranged around the foot and under the shell. The most conspicuous organ, the crescent-shaped gonad, is gray or green in females and cream colored in males. It extends around the side opposite the pores and to the rear of the abalone. The abalone has a pair of eyes, a mouth and an enlarged pair of tentacles. Inside the mouth is a long, file-like tongue called the radula, which scrapes algal matter to a size that can be ingested. The gill chamber is next to the mouth and under the respitory pores. Water is drawn in under the edge of the shell, and then flows over the gills and out the pores. Waste and reproductive products are carried out in the flow of water. Since it has no obvious brain structure, the abalone is considered to be a primitive animal. However, it does have a heart on its left side and blood flows through he arteries, sinuses and veins, assisted by the surrounding tissues and muscles.

Ab Diving Basics
Abs live near or in kelp beds. When you descend down into the kelp bed, have your method of measuring and your ab iron handy. When a suitable ab has been found, quickly slide the ab iron between the rock and under the ab's foot. Pry the ab up using the end of the ab iron under the ab's foot as the fulcum point (clarification: as you pull up on the ab iron, the tip of the iron under the ab should remain in contact with the rock and not poking up into the ab's organs).

If you touch the ab prior to getting your ab iron under the foot, or the ab clamps down on the rock, do not force the ab iron under the shell. This will damage the ab and possibly cause the ab death. Never bring up an ab that is under-sized. There is a heavy fine for taking more than the limit and bringing up small abs.

From the Department of Fish and Game
"Ocean Sport Fishing: California Marine Regulations"
Effective: January 10, 2006 to December 31, 2006

29.15. Abalone.

For the purposes of this section a boat is defined as any watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water (reference Section 9840(a), Vehicle Code and Section 6552(q), Title 14, California Code of Regulations). An Abalone Report Card shall be valid during the open season for taking abalone in the calendar year for which it was issued. No person may be issued or possess more than one Abalone Report Card or any abalone report card other than their own. No person shall take more than 24 abalone in a calendar year. The Abalone Report Card must be returned to the Department of Fish and Game at 19160 South Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg, California 94537, within 30 days of the close of the abalone season.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Order: Pleurotomariacea
Family: Haliotidae
Genus: Haliotis
Species: Haliotis spp.

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