October 16, 2019 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Bringing Back Abalone to Santa Monica Bay

Once thriving marine snail under threat.

By Brianna Kwasnik

Venice, despite being a beachside town, is not known for its fresh seafood but this was not always the case. There was once a time when freedivers and scuba-divers would collect abalone in the waters of Santa Monica Bay and sell them to local restaurants.

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.”

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.

Related Posts

40 Units of Permanent Supportive Housing on Lincoln Boulevard?

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

Venice Community Housing submits proposal to LA City Planning By Sam Catanzaro An auto repair shop on Lincoln Boulevard in...

Edify TV: Westside Measles Exposure

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has announced that a person with measles visited several Westside businesses this...

Man Who Died on Venice Beach Last Week Identified

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

Cause of Timothy Hutson’s death still unknown By Sam Catanzaro Over the weekend investigators identified a man whose body was...

Body found on Venice beach, Building affordable housing too expensive? House homeless in already built units and temporary shelters? Yo! Venice This Week October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019 1

Yo! Venice This Week October 14, 2019 – all your local news and happenings in under 5 minutes.* Body found...

Prince vs. Bowie silent disco on the Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival: Yo! Venice Westside Local – Oct. 11 2019

October 11, 2019

October 11, 2019

Yo! Venice Westside Local – Oct. 11th 2019 – all your local events and happenings in under 5 minutes.* Prince...

Body Found on Venice Beach

October 9, 2019

October 9, 2019

Body found Wednesday morning By Sam Catanzaro The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is investigating a body that was found...

Building Affordable too Costly? Use Existing Units to House Homeless

October 9, 2019

October 9, 2019

Report released showing cost of developing affordable housing in Los Angeles By Sam Catanzaro As the Los Angeles City Controller...

Letter to the Editor: Bringing Homeless into Policymaking?

October 8, 2019

October 8, 2019

Dear Editor: It was ironic to see your cover story (Bringing Homeless into Policymaking? – 9/26/19), with yet another dubious...

Man arrested for stabbing wife on Speedway near Venice Beach, Thatcher Yard development to break ground in 2020: Yo! Venice This Week: October 7

October 7, 2019

October 7, 2019

Yo! Venice This Week: October 7, 2019 – all your local news and happenings in under 5 minutes* Man arrested...

Man Arrested After Repeatedly Stabbing Wife in Venice

October 7, 2019

October 7, 2019

LAPD arrest man on suspicion of murder Friday night By Sam Catanzaro A man was arrested in Venice Beach Friday...

Venice student donates over $1,000 to Bahamas relief effort, Skate, Bike, and Roll Breast Cancer event: Yo! Venice Westside Local October 4 2019

October 4, 2019

October 4, 2019

Yo! Venice Westside Local October 4 2019 – all your fun local events and happenings in under 5 minutes.* Venice...

Thatcher Yard to Break Ground in 2020

October 4, 2019

October 4, 2019 1

98 units of housing for seniors and formally homeless families By Sam Catanzaro According to a report recently released by...

Venice Fifth Grader Raises Over $1,000 for Families Devastated by Hurricane Dorian

October 2, 2019

October 2, 2019

10-year-old Scarlett Johnson raises money for Direct Relief By Keldine Hull As students around the world become more vocal about...

Bonin Calls For Investigation Into Playa del Rey Oil Facility, Water fountains near Venice homeless encampment: Yo! Venice This Week September 30

October 1, 2019

October 1, 2019

Yo! Venice This Week September 30 – all your local news in under 5 minutes.* Bonin Calls For Investigation Into...