Skip links

Abalone Facts for Kids

Abalones are mollusks that are closely related to limpets, but bigger than limpets. An abalone has a single shell that covers its body and has many holes called apertures. Common names for abalones also include ear-shells, sea ears, as well as muttonfish or muttonshells in Australia, ormer in Great Britain, perlemoen and venus’s-ears in South Africa and pāua in New Zealand.

Definition and Synonyms for an Abalone

The definition of abalone according to the American Heritage Dictionary of English Language is: Any of various large edible marine gastropods of the genus Haliotis, having an ear-shaped shell with a row of holes along the outer edge. The colorful pearly interior of the shell is often used for making ornaments. Also called ear shell.

Marinauris Iredale, 1927
Nordotis Habe & Kosuge, 1964
Padollus Montfort, 1810
Sanhaliotis Iredale, 1929

What is the Scientific Classification of an Abalone?

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca

Class: Gastropoda

Superfamily: Haliotoidea

Family: Haliotidae

Genus: Haliotis

Fun Facts About the Abalone

What do Abalone eat: algae and seaweed

How Big do Abalone get: six to twelve inches

What Color are Abalone: dark blue, lavender, green, brick red, or black

What are the natural predators of the Abalone: cabezon fish, moray eels, crabs, octopi, sea stars, and sea otters

Diving for Abalone: Abalone divers are not allowed to use SCUBA when diving for abalone.

What are the different types of Abalone: pink abalone, black abalone, green abalone, pinto abalone, red abalone, white abalone, flat abalone,

What are the relatives of the Abalone: nudibranchs, sea hares, octopi, squid, scallops, mussels, oysters, clams, chitons, snails, limpets

What does an Abalone Look Like?

The shell of abalones has a convex, rounded to oval shape, and may be highly arched or very flattened. It is generally ear shaped, presenting two to three whorls. The last whorl is auriform such that the shell resembles an “ear”.

The color of the shell is very variable from species to species, and may reflect the animal’s diet. The iridescent nacre that lines the inside of the shell varies in color from silvery white, to pink, red and green-red, through to Haliotis iris, which shows predominantly deep blues, greens and purples.

Where does the Abalone Live?

The haliotid family of sea creatures can be found along the coastal waters of every continent, except the Atlantic coast of South America, the Caribbean, and the East Coast of the United States.

The majority of abalone species are found in cold waters, off the Southern Hemisphere coasts of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, and Western North America and Japan and Alaska in the Northern Hemisphere.

What are Abalone Used For

The meat of abalone is used for food, and the shells of abalone are used as decorative items. The meat of this mollusk is considered a delicacy in certain parts of Latin America, France, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.

Where are Abalone Harvested?

Australia: Tasmania provides approximately 25% of the yearly world abalone harvest. Around 12,500 Tasmanians recreationally fish for blacklip and greenlip abalone.

California: Harvesting of red abalone is permitted with a California fishing license and an abalone stamp card.

New Zealand:There is an extensive global black market in the collection and export of abalone meat.

South Africa: The largest abalone in South Africa, the perlemoen, Haliotis midae, occurs along approximately two-thirds of the country’s coastline.

Channel Islands: Ormers are considered a delicacy in the British Channel Islands and are pursued with great alacrity by the locals.