Facts To know About the Abalone Shell
Abalone is a common name for any of a group of small to very large marine gastropod molluscs in the family Haliotidae.
Other common names are ear shells, sea ears, and, rarely, muttonfish or muttonshells in parts of Australia, ormer in the UK, perlemoen in South Africa.
Abalone vary in size from 20 mm (0.8 in) to 200 mm (8 in) while Haliotis rufescens is the largest of the genus at 12 in (30 cm).
The shell of abalones is convex, rounded to oval in shape, and may be highly arched or very flattened. The shell of the majority of species has a small, flat spire and two to three whorls.
The exterior of the shell is striated and dull. The color of the shell is very variable from species to species, which may reflect the animal’s diet.
The shell of the abalone is exceptionally strong and is made of microscopic calcium carbonate tiles stacked like bricks. Between the layers of tiles is a clingy protein substance.
The meat (foot muscle) of abalone is used for food, and the shells of abalone are used as decorative items and as a source of mother of pearl for jewelry, buttons, buckles, and inlay.
Overfishing and poaching have reduced wild populations to such an extent that farmed abalone now supplies most of the abalone meat consumed.