Staircase Abalone (Haliotis scalaris) - ROM2004_861_8

Staircase abalone, Haliotis scalaris

Staircase Abalone (Haliotis scalaris)

Geography: Indian Ocean, Australia, Western Australia: In caves, 15-20 metres off of Rottnest Island
Date: October, 1991
length=2.5; width=6.5 cm
(measurements are for the largest specimen)
    • Attributes
    • Objects
    • Taxonomy
    • KingdomAnimalia
    • PhylumMollusca
    • ClassGastropoda
    • OrderArchaeogastropoda
    • FamilyHaliotidae
    • GenusHaliotis
    • SpecificEpithetscalaris
Object number: ROMIZ M12434
On view
DescriptionMolluscs found on vertical rock surfaces or in areas of heavy wave action tend to have conical shells with low spires. In such habitats, the height of the shell does not generally exceed its diameter providing stability to the animal. In fact, with increasing exposure to the dangers of surf or predation shell height will decrease. Abalones, such as Haliotis scalaris, are also known as sea ears or ormers as a result of their shape. These snails have a flattish coiled shell that possesses a series of four to six holes. The holes are used to expel water which is drawn in under the shell, passed over the gills, and then forced out through the holes. The staircase abalone is active at night grazing on algae found on the subtidal rocks to which it clings. It is an uncommon species native to South and West Australia, however, diving collectors have increased the numbers available. In general, abalones are coveted for their edible muscular foot (specialized body part used for locomotion), which is considered a delicacy by gourmets, and the beautiful pearly lustre of the inside of their shells that is used to make jewellery. Abalones also produce striking natural pearls which can be cream, green, rose or turquoise. Aquaculture operations are underway in California and New Zealand to raise abalone for food and secondarily for pearls. Abalone pearls were once used as trade goods by native peoples as evidenced by archaeological digs in California.
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