Abalone biology

Development of Northern (Pinto) Abalone in Culture photos courtesy of 
    		Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Abalone Project
Development of Northern (Pinto) Abalone in Culture photos courtesy of Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Abalone Project


Life cycle

Generalized life cycle of the northern abalone: Male and female abalone spawn in April to August. Spawning may not occur every year. Mass fertilization occurs in the water column. Fertilized eggs hatch within one day into free-swimming larvae which remain in the plankton for 2-11 days before settling. Planktonic larvae are dispersed by current. Larval settlement may be triggered by chemical secreted by the encrusting red algae Lithothamnion and related genera, typically found in areas grazed by sea urchins or abalone. Following metamorphosis, juvenile abalone are light sensitive and seek habitats in cracks and underside of rocks. As the juveniles grow, they migrate up to preferred food source, often kelp. Abalone may live to 15 years and reach a maximum shell length of 150 mm.

Ecological data

Growth rate

More rapid growth and larger size in beds of bull kelp (Nereocystis leutkeanana) and giant kelp (Macrocystis integrifolia); legal size of 100 mm is reached in 6 to 10 yr; sexually mature at about 50 mm


Only commercially exploited snail in B.C.; Small commercial, native and sport fisheries closed in 1990; 1986 commercial catch was 52 t valued at $0.7 million.


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Breen, P.A. 1986. Management of the British Columbia fishery for abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), p. 300-312. In G.S.

Jamieson and N. Bourne [ed.] North Pacific workshop on stock assessment and management of invertebrates. Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 92.

Fedorenko, A.Y., and P.E. Sprout. 1982. Abalone biology, fishery regulations, commercial catch (1952-1980), and current state of resource in British Columbia. Can. MS Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 1658: 74 p.

Jamieson, G.S., and K. Francis. 1986. Abalone, p.13-17. In G.S. Jamieson and K. Francis [ed.] Invertebrate and marine plant fishery resources of British Columbia. Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 91.

Mottet, M.G. 1978. A review of the fishery biology of abalone. Wash. Dep. Fish. Tech. Rep. 37: 81 p.

Quayle, D.B. 1971. Growth, morphology and breeding in the British Columbia abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana Jonas). Fish. Res. Board Can. Tech. Rep. 279: 83 p.