Holding Fast, or Failing? There Are Dozens of Confounding Elements Working Against Abalone Recovery on the California Coast.

For years, abalone have been in serious decline in California. While abalone shells persist, molded into sidewalk benches, nailed onto signposts, and laid on countless tribal gravestones, the animals themselves — seven species of which inhabit California waters — all continue to dwindle from their kelp forest homes. This stark reality is the result of decades of abalone overharvesting and climate disruption, the impacts of which have been amplified by trophic cascades.

…A small, sun-weathered building situated amidst the ceaseless industrial stir of Terminal Island — a primarily artificial slab of land more or less divided between the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach — seems like a strange place to raise endangered marine invertebrates. Yet, that is exactly what Director of Marine Operations Heather Burdick and her team at the Santa Monica Bay Foundation have set out to do.  “We’ve been doing captive spawning here in our lab with greens and reds, and now we’re starting to work with white abalone,” Burdick announces from the parking lot, over a thrum of shipping trucks and ocean freighters…

Leave a comment