Red Abalone are the largest species of Abalone in the world. They are native to the California waters and prefer the cooler water temperatures north of Point Conception. They enjoy dining on Giant Kelp which they smell for using their sensory tentacles which surround their prized,muscular foot. This foot has the same diameter as their shell and has a powerful suction cup with a strong surface adhesion, making them difficult for most predators to remove. They use this foot to cling on to surfaces as a protection from predators as well as a way to propel forward. Once the sensory tentacles around the foot have found the algae, their radula (a protruding tongue with rasplike teeth) emerges to consume the algae trapped beneath them. Red Abalone reach sexual maturity at around 4 years old and can release more than 2 million gametes per reproduction season, yet the amount of larvae that make it to adulthood is very low. When they do make it to adulthood they can live for 34-54 years old. There is no wild commercial harvest of Red Abalone on the west coast, sourcing from a local Abalone Farm is the next best option. Abalone has a mild flavor and having a texture somewhere between squid and a scallop with a mildly salty and sweet flavor.
Historic over-harvesting of Abalone coupled with rising sea temperatures, periodic low oxygen conditions and a rise in urchin populations threatening kelp forest health have all contributed to the demise of local populations. Recently imposed strict regulations designed to protect wild Abalone have not been enough to protect this species from reaching threatened status. As a result there is no longer any commercial or recreational harvest of wild red abalone on the West Coast making local Abalone Farms the next best option. Several farms in the region use local Red Abalone genetics and grow them from larval to juvenile stage before harvesting them at 3 years old. Fresh, cold salt-water is pumped in and circulated through tanks where the Abalone are fed 100% wild kelp and algae diet. There are no antibiotics, GMO’s or chemicals used in the farming of these Abalone. Monterey Bay Seafood Watches rates farmed Abalone as a “Best Choice” due to minimal environmental disruption and disturbance.
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