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Information about Blacklip Abalone (Haliotis rubra)

Abalone is an edible mollusc.  Endemic to Australia.  It is considered a delicacy.  It has a single, ear-shaped shell lined with mother of pearl.  The foot of the abalone has a distinct black lip that gives this species its name. Belonging to the family of molluscs, abalone are large marine snails or gastropods with a hard ear-shaped shell and a muscular foot which inhabit Australia's rocky shorelines, from shallow water up to depths of forty or sometimes 50 metres.

Abalone is found along the rocky shores of Australia, south from mid New South Wales down and around to Western Australia.  Abalone in shallow waters averages around 8cm, while shells found in deeper water grow to around 14cm.  Growth rates vary seasonally and with location.  Blacklip abalone can grow to at least 21cm in length. 

abalone, abalone in shell, abalone meat

Blacklip Abalone graze on seagrass leaves and algae growing on rocks, their diet is dominated by red algae.  They are preyed upon by crabs, starfish, stingrays, wobbegong sharks and possibly rock lobsters. Abalone eat marine algae. The adults feed on loose pieces drifting with the surge or current.

Also known as Brownlip Abalone.

State regulations set bag limits and minimum size limits for abalone caught by recreational fishers.  In Western Australia abalone may only be taken by divers using snorkelling gear.

Of over 100 species of abalone living in the world today, at least twenty three of these occur in Australia: however in Tasmania it is only the two largest species which form the basis of the commercial abalone fishing industry - the green lip (Haliotis Laevigata) and the black lip (Haliotis Ruber).

Abalone adheres itself to rocks, so a tool called an "abiron" is used to dislodge it.  An ab-iron is similar to a paint scraper. See below:

Abalone iron, ab iron, tool used to get abalone off rocks
Abalone Iron | Ab Iron
Used for prising Abalone from rocks.

Abalone Shell - showing outside of shell

Abalone - showing mollusc and inside of shell

Dried Abalone

Paua, abalone, abalone on shell, new zealand paua
L&B Taspac - New Zealand Seafood

Scientific Name Haliotis rubra
Location Southern half of Australia
Season -
Size To 21 cm in length.
Australian Species Code 00 662001
Taste, Texture Delicate taste, firm texture.


Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
of Blacklip Abalone

Kilojoules -
Cholesterol -
Sodium -
Total fat (oil) 0.8 g
Saturated fat 31% of total fat
Monounsaturated fat 22% of total fat
Polyunsaturated fat 47% of total fat
Omega-3, EPA 48 mg
Omega-3, DHA 2 mg
Omega-6, AA 100 mg

Other Abalone Links:


More information about Abalone

Recipes using Abalone - from How to Cook

Instructions on preparing abalone western style - Step by Step photos

Habits of Abalone
In their natural habitat abalones are browsers, moving along in a mainly uninterrupted gliding motion aided in their locomotion by the creeping sole of their muscular foot. As light evading animals abalone attach themselves to shady parts of rocks with this foot which has a suction force of more than 4000 times that of their own body weight. Haliotids are herbivores, feeding almost solely upon algae and small sea weeds which they grind from the rocks. Never travelling far from the place where they first settled, abalone usually prefer to dwell in places on the seabed where drift weed is conveniently carried along by a gentle current. Seaweed, bryozoa and sponge form a covering on the outer shell of the abalone, providing it with handy camouflage.

Life Cycle of Abalone
Abalones are either male or female but lacking accessory reproductive organs necessary for copulation, they are spawners. An adult female may lay up to 500,000 eggs which are released into the sea water when induced by the presence of male sperm. Fertilisation takes place in the sea and the eggs then float for one to five days as they develop into veligers with a minute shell. The veligers sink to the sea bed attaching themselves to lithothamnion, a red sea weed covering rock, and begin to grow at a rapid rate. Growth rates depend entirely on the food supply available but it can be as much as 40 millimetres per year.

Young abalone remain vulnerable to natural predators, making a tasty dish to many varieties of fish and crabs. As such they live by day concealing themselves within tiny crevices between rocks emerging only at night to feed. Yet as they grow larger and become more sexually mature (about three years of age) they may remain out in the open while still avoiding the occasional deadly foe such as octopus, crabs, fish, sharks, stingrays and of course man.

polished abalone shellAbalone Shells

Abalone shells, which can attain lengths of up to twenty centimetres, are flat, asymmetrical (ear-shaped) and spirally coiled with a low spire and a row of open holes on a curved line along one edge. 



Cooking Abalone:

Abalones (Family Haliotidae) have succulent meaty bodies and are both delicate and delicious in flavour placing them in high demand on dinner tables across the globe. 


Live Abalone, Greenlip Abalone, Haliotis laevigata. The International Abalone SocietyCommercial Fishing for Abalone:

Abalone is an important commercial fishery.  Experimental aquaculture is being tested in Australia in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria.

Abalone is one of the most prized sea delicacies worldwide. Farming of abalone began in the late 1950's and early 1960's in Japan and China.

The blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) forms the basis of the abalone fishery in NSW. Abalone are commercially harvested from rocky reefs by divers typically using surface-supplied air or scuba. In practice, most commercial abalone fishing takes place on the south coast of NSW, primarily from Jervis Bay to the Victorian border, with most abalone found close to the shore.





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