Black Abalone on the Channel Islands Teeter Toward Extinction

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Date: May 2, 2008
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5736

During the May “From Shore to Sea” lecture Channel Islands National Park marine biologist Dan Richards will discuss his research on the black abalone—an important intertidal species that was once among the most abundant shellfish along the California coastline and today is struggling to survive.

Black abalone once dominated the rocky intertidal zone where the surf meets the shoreline. In his presentation Richards will describe how this once productive abalone fishery, with densities of 100 abalone per meter, declined and commercial harvests dropped 95% on the northern Channel Islands between 1972 and 1992. By 1993 the entire California black abalone fishery was closed.

Richard’s monitoring found massive declines in black abalone in 1986, eventually resulting in over a 99% loss of this valuable mollusk. By 1988 nearly all of the surviving abalone were concentrated at San Miguel Island and densities were reduced to only 0.09 abalone per meter. In 2007 the National Marine Fisheries Service was petitioned to list black abalone under the Endangered Species Act.
Richards, a National Park Service biologist, manages the marine monitoring program at Channel Islands National Park. He earned degrees in marine biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara and Humboldt State University. He served as a member of the science panel for the Channel Islands marine reserve process and most recently worked on the multi-agency Status Review Team for black abalone.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with generous support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures will occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13, 2008, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, May 14, 2008, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

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Last updated: February 27, 2015

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