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Pinto abalone

pinto abalone
Pinto abalone. Photo © 2008 Madelon Mottet

Compared to other species of cultured abalone, the pinto is quite small. It is closely related to a Japanese species, and the two were once considered to be the same. Because of its small size and similarity to a Japanese species, it has different marketing potential that the larger warm-water species.

Technically, the larvae of abalone are relatively easy to rear as they hatch from large eggs and the larvae do not need to be fed during their swimming stage (which lasts for about a week). The larvae then attach to solid surfaces that are covered with a thin slim of benthic diatoms, which is their food. In hatcheries, plastic wave plates are provided as habitat for the setting larvae.

abalone at 4-cell stage
Photo © 2008 Madelon Mottet
Abalone egg that has divided twice and is at the 4-cell stage (Sitka Sea Farm).

abalone larva
Photo © 2008 Madelon Mottet
Swimming abalone larva with the beginnings of a shell (Sitka Sea Farm).

wave plate for set larvae
Photo © 2008 Madelon Mottet
Wave plates for setting abalone larvae being hung in the sea to detoxify and develop a slime coat (Sitka Sea Farm).

The real challenge of rearing abalone commercially is the fact that they have to be fed large amounts of seaweed on a regular basis and they grow very slowly. A commercially viable abalone operation for this species would probably have to be designed to use the great efficiencies that are provided by culturing organisms in the sea rather than in tanks. Economic culture may be possible using hatchery seed that is planted in suitable habitats. If necessary, algae grown on ropes could be lowered to the bottom for feeding.

Reseeding areas that historically had abalone is also feasible.


Website
© 2008-2010 Madelon Mottet

Contact information:
RAM Marine Station
333 9th Ave. W, Prince Rupert, British Columbia V8J 2S6, Canada
Telephone 1-250-624-2097
Fax 1-815-642-8306
email: madelon.mottet@gmail.com or Allen Johnson at abalone55@hotmail.com